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Strengthen Title IX to close gap in STEM

June 23, 2012
The Leader Herald

Today is the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark civil rights law whose purpose was to ensure gender equity in education. It has provided many educational opportunities, not just in athletics, for women and girls since 1972.

The National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, chaired by the American Association of University Women, calls on policy makers to strengthen Title IX to end sexual harassment and close the achievement gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The new NCWGE report, "Title IX at 40: Working to Ensure Gender Equity in Education," which cites AAUW's 2010 research report, "Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics," on the underrepresentation of women in the STEM fields, asks the Department of Education to issue guidance outlining Title IX coordinators' responsibilities in ensuring equity in STEM education.

The OCR has also issued guidance clarifying that bullying based on sex and sexual harassment of students, including acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX. The NCWGE report references the 2011 AAUW research report, "Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School," which found that nearly half of middle and high school students experienced the problem in the 201011 school year. NCWGE recommends that OCR conduct public education and technical assistance activities to guide school districts in their compliance efforts, particularly in light of the guidance documents issued and recent technological developments affecting cyber bullying and harassment.

The Amsterdam-Gloversville-Johnstown AAUW branch fostered opportunities covered under Title IX at their recent Tech Savvy Sister to Sister Summit for middle school girls in the tri-counties which offered activities in STEM fields.

Advisers attending with the girls were invited to view the video "Real Points on the Imaginary LINE Sexual Harassment in School," produced by the AAUW Student Organization at Jefferson County Community College, which included guidance by the OCR clarifying that bullying based on sex and sexual harassment of students, including acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.

Perhaps you remember your school days when girls didn't take shop, were discouraged from taking higher math and science courses and didn't have the opportunities to participate in sports. The Title IX civil rights law has opened doors for our daughters and grandchildren, and we hope it will continue to assist them.

ELIZABETH RUSSO

Johnstown

Amsterdam-Gloversville-Johnstown AAUW

 
 

 

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