Title IX: Why don’t we apply it to science/math as we do to sports?
When I think of “Title IX,” I think of girls in sports in the U.S. Did you know that Title IX does not specifically state that its only impact is school sports and college athletics, despite its affiliation? I recently read an opinion piece on politicsdaily.com about how Title IX (“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” from wikipedia.org) should be applied to science and math, as it does to school sports. Rita Misra, who wrote this opinion entitled “More than Sports: Title IX, Women and Science,” (parentheses are my addition) says that:
Gender differences in math and science are considered such a truism that even how a kid plays with a truck (referring to Larry Summer’s speech on how women are innately less capable in math and science) can be taken as confirmation — and not only does that steer women away from the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics] disciplines as a matter of career choice, studies show that repetition of these ideas can actually cause test scores to worsen.
Gender differences in math and science may be myths, but they’re myths that have sprung out into the real world fully formed and are now tromping through our streets, setting fires, overturning cars and vandalizing park benches as they go.
In fact, girls are doing just as well as boys in math, according to a study published in the journal Science. But what keeps girls avoiding math and science? “Self-confidence instilled by parents and teachers is more important for young girls learning math and science than their initial interest” says a Sciencedaily.com article. Because our culture still seems to perpetuate this myth that girls just aren’t good at math/science, the number of women choosing STEM careers still remains low. I agree with the author Misra in that:
Title IX in science and math is not going to look exactly Title IX in sports. I’d be especially reluctant to see it, for instance, be a part of the determination for which research projects do or don’t get funded. But there’s not only a space but a need for it, in terms of things like setting up mentorship programs in disciplines where the test scores may be equal but the representation is not.
I think that there should be an overhaul of Title IX. I don’t mean to “rewrite” this act but to “reinterpret” it. We know why there is little representation of women in STEM careers—so why can’t we do anything about it?
When I was in elementary school, I was told by teachers and parents that math and science were not my strong points—that I should just stick to English and social studies. Was this because I did not understand math and science, or because I was told that I did not understand math and science? Either way, I distanced myself from those areas from a very early age. Women and girls who are reading this: what were your experiences with math/science as a kid and how did that translate into your current career and if you have daughters, how do you treat your daughters with regards to math/science?
To read more about women in math and science, click here.