Title IX Turns to Science: Where Are the Women Physicists?

Gender-equality law looks beyond sports
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2008 8:59 AM CDT
Title IX Turns to Science: Where Are the Women Physicists?
Sana Raoof, Yi-Han Su, and Natalie Saranga Omattage pose after receiving top honors at the 2008 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Atlanta, Friday, May 16, 2008.    (AP Photo)

Title IX, the federal mandate that requires gender equality in education funding, has been applied mostly to sports teams, but recently a new push has begun to apply it to university science departments. Decrying a dearth of women in physics and engineering programs, some women's groups and members of Congress have called for compliance reviews. But reviews haven't yet turned up hard evidence of discrimination, the New York Times reports.

Studies have shown that differing interests send more boys toward math and physics, not an inequality in how female and male students are treated. And pushing girls toward subjects they aren't passionate about, even if they excel, could create unhappy women, says Susan Pinker. Other critics argue that "Title Nining" science could lead to a quota system that could seriously impair scientific research. "It’ll be devastating to American science if every male-dominated field has to be calibrated to women’s level of interest,” writes one. (Read more Title IX stories.)

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