The “Gender Equity in Education Act” Distorts Statistics, Ignores Science, Addresses Irrelevant Issues and Puts Women at a Disadvantage

In June Senator Mazie Hirono and Congresswoman Doris Matsui introduced the Gender Equity in Education Act (S 2186 and HR 4097) into their respective chambers of congress. Its professed goals are “To support educational entities in fully implementing title IX...reducing and preventing sex discrimination in all areas of education, and...other purposes.” In reality it: 1) Distorts facts to create a false appearance of discrimination. 2) Promotes policies that have no meaningful relationship to gender issues. 3) Implies a correlation between absence of discrimination and “equality of outcome.” Use of the word “equity” in the act’s title is both telling and duplicitous. Now often a euphemism for “equality of outcome,” historically it meant “fair but not necessarily equal.”

Among the matters the act addresses are: 1) “Disparities” between male and female students’ rates of participation in sports and in the athletic opportunities available to each sex. 2) Supposition that “women are severely underrepresented in fields nontraditional to their gender” due to discrimination. 3) Real or perceived racial “disparities.” 4) The fact that “youth from low-income households were least likely to be current [sports] players... and most likely to have never played sports.”

Three flaws are pervasive.

First is selective use of statistics. Examples include: “Women only hold 34 percent of all tenured and tenure-track [college faculty] positions.” “Asian-American women hold around 5 percent of all tenured and tenure-track positions.” The act doesn’t mention that people of Asian descent—males and females, adults and children—constitute 7% of the American population. Or that half of college faculty members are female. Or that females constitute a majority of college department heads and of part time professors. Or that 60% of college students are female. Or that they have more single sex scholarships and activities available than male students do. USA Today has reported that the gap between male and female students has been widening for decades and that males account for 70% of a drop in American college attendance rates during the last five years.

Inclusion of issues unrelated to gender is the second flaw. If claims of racial discrimination are not distortions the matter belongs in another bill. Low income students’ rates of participation in sports is even more irrelevant. Sexual and racial discrimination isn’t involved. Low income students are less likely to have the necessary money and time. Is the goal to give them athletic free rides?

The third flaw is failure to objectively assess cause and effect: Do fewer females participate in sports because of fewer opportunities? Or is “lack of opportunity” a consequence of (relative) female disinterest? Why do women hold 34% of tenure track jobs? Is it because they constitute about 34% of applicants? Or some other reason? If they constitute substantially less than 34% of applicants there might be anti-male bias.

Studies of such questions are rare. But a study conducted by the peer reviewed EMBO Reports is telling. It examined why women constitute 45% of biomedical postdoctoral fellows but “29% of the tenure-track investigators.” It found: 1) A 17% difference in the proportions of male (67%) and female (50%) fellows intending to pursue senior investigator positions. 2) Women often left the field after getting married or having children. Men did not.

Before concluding “disparities” in other fields result from bias similar studies are needed. Examining levels of female interest in particular fields and job types is key. In the academic world, for example, pursuit of tenure requires willingness to relocate anywhere. It is possible that married female professors often choose non-tenure work to avoid relocating. Until the question is studied we cannot know the answer.

It is unscientific to assume differences between the interests of males and females are “conditioned” by “experiences of bias” or “culturally constructed stereotypes.” Science demonstrates differences between male and female brain function and psychology. These contribute to different interests.

Some people reject science because: 1) They equate “different” with “unequal.” 2) They refuse to accept biologically determined masculine and feminine realities outside human control. Those ideological doctrines insist there can be no natural differences between the interests of men and women—only differences of “social conditioning.” Demands for radical “equality of outcome” follow. This “equality” doesn’t just entail equal proportions of male and female applicants for particular job types getting hired. It entails comparable proportions of men and women performing each type of work. Alternatives outcomes are automatically ascribed to bias.

Another unscientific aspect of the act even undermines its professed goal of increasing female participation in sports. This is its endorsement of “transgender identity” and its claim that “sex” is “designated at birth.” Science tells us sex is not “designated” by people’s choices. It is determined by chromosomes. Chromosomes also make males more physically powerful than females. Whenever men claiming to be “transgender women” are accepted into female sports the results are the same: They outperform real women with ease. They rob real women of scholarships and other rewards. Real women are discouraged from participating.

And how would the Gender Equity in Education Act implement its program? By creating yet another costly bureaucratic agency—an “Office for Gender Equity.”

As the Department of Education already has an Office of Civil Rights to address sex based discrimination another agency is superfluous. And before any new initiatives should be taken against merely alleged discrimination it is necessary to do the following: 1) Collect and objectively analyze all relevant statistics. 2) Conduct studies of whether women’s own choices have resulted in their being “under represented” in particular areas. 3) Identify “neutral” factors (unrelated to discrimination) that impact women’s access to educational opportunities or presence in particular fields. These are not the concern of anti-discrimination campaigns. The impact of individuals’ economic status on educational and career opportunities is among these “neutral” factors. 4) Assess if anti-male bias contributes to decreasing male college attendance.
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