"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Logic of Sameness, Title IX, and Higher Education

Jessica Gavora has an article over at the Weekly Standard on a near-miss regarding Title IX (the law that requires equal treatment or somesuch of men and women in higher education) and its application to math and science departments.

We really shouldn't be all that surprised. If they can boot a Harvard U president and tell us that men and women like to compete in sports in exactly the same proportions (the logic underlying Title IX's re-engineering of college athletics), why not censure engineering departments that are 80% male?

14 comments:

Tlaloc said...

"and tell us that men and women like to compete in sports in exactly the same proportions (the logic underlying Title IX's re-engineering of college athletics),"

I don't think that is the logic, frankly. I think the logic is that both men's and women's sports deserve support.

Michael Simpson said...

Nope, you're wrong, frankly. Title IX (as interpreted by the Clinton administration and carried on mostly by the Bushies) requires that universities support men's and women's athletics - in terms of scholarships - in precisely the proportion of male and female students. 50/50 student population? 50/50 scholarships. Add women's soccer, get rid of baseball.

Now, those rules have been relaxed a bit, with the current administration suggesting that universities can use surveys to measure "interest" as a way of ensuring equity, but that is much disputed and will likely not outlive the administration.

Tlaloc said...

"Title IX (as interpreted by the Clinton administration and carried on mostly by the Bushies) requires that universities support men's and women's athletics - in terms of scholarships - in precisely the proportion of male and female students."

Again that doesn't require that you believe both sexes have equal interest in sports, merely that you provide equal support to them. That strikes me as completely fair logic. The more women you have the more money you throw at women's sports. The more men you have the more money you throw at men's sports.

Seems entirely reasonable.

Kathy Hutchins said...

And if computer science weren't part of the engineering school in some universities, the engineering numbers would be even more skewed. And if you exclude life sciences from the "hard" sciences, they look just like engineering.

When I was a policy analyst at the National Science Foundation 20 years ago, university diversity mavens were screaming and moaning about this. There was a significant amount of manpower and money thrown at the "problem" but obviously nothing has changed. This is not a situation that is amenable of policy meddling; it reflects individual preferences that are obviously quite unyielding.

Tlaloc said...

"This is not a situation that is amenable of policy meddling; it reflects individual preferences that are obviously quite unyielding."

uh huh.

Tell you what try a little experiment.

Go down to a local toy store. Find one that has chemistry sets. Look at the box lid. You'll see a boy smiling. Or you'll see a boy doing stuff while a girl watches and smiles.

This has absolutely not a damn thing to do with individual preferences. It has to do with cultural conditioning that we push on kids from an early age.

Fix that fix the problem. But fixing that requires a lot of social upheaval. A lot of people are going to get angry because their rank prejudices aren't coddled anymore.

Tlaloc said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tlaloc said...

exhibit A:

http://james.lab6.com/2003/07/27/chemistry/box.jpg

Hunter Baker said...

Or maybe they've done a little research and know their market.

Matt Huisman said...

This has absolutely not a damn thing to do with individual preferences. It has to do with cultural conditioning that we push on kids from an early age.

Let's say that this is true (who knows, there may be a large cross-section of men who missed out on the joy of Polly Pockets due to those bigoted toy makers). You're still dealing with a situation where school systems are receiving kids with varying interests.

Is it the school's responsibility to change these interests? At the college level?

Tlaloc said...

"Or maybe they've done a little research and know their market."

self fulfilling prophecy. You onlymarket to one group and they are going to be the only interested group so you only market to them.

Beyond that it is a stupid business practice. Yes you market to the most interested but you also try to continuously expand your market.

Tlaloc said...

"You're still dealing with a situation where school systems are receiving kids with varying interests."

Which will tend to average out statistically when let everyone pursue their interests.

See, what the school is really getting is a huge batch of kids programmed to have certain interests.



"Is it the school's responsibility to change these interests? At the college level?"

No, but at the same time it is also not the school's responsibilities to look the other way while girls get pushed aside.

Evanston said...

T-Man, how did you get interested in computer science? Did society "push" you into it?

Tlaloc said...

"T-Man, how did you get interested in computer science? Did society "push" you into it? "

Hard to say. I think it was my own personal interest but how impartially can I really evaluate the social pressures put on me? Especially those put on me as a child when I was just developing?

Evanston said...

T, thanks. In my case I thought about the "what to do when I grow up question" late in high school. I think applying for colleges concentrated the mind a bit. I started applying for engineering schools, because I heard engineers made a lot of money. Then I took calculus and did OK but found it incredibly boring. So while I was accepted to engineering schools I also was accepted at liberal arts schools and went that way, starting with a foreign affairs major and later changing to economics. So in my case I sorta drifted around looking for preferences. I ended up in NROTC and the Marines because they were stupid enough to pay me, a guy who had little work experience, money. I was more surprised than anyone that I ended up enjoying it and making it a career. So your overall point is certainly right, it's "hard to tell" why we end up doing what we're doing, it's a complicated interaction. Still, I bristle against de facto quotas for/against any ethnic group or gender in any field. Those who seek to "remedy" society's alleged bias are forcing their own bias (perfect 50/50 gender ratios) on others. Y'know, it could just be that men and women are different.