Friday, 23 August 2019

Study Finds Women-only STEM College Programs/Scholarships Amount to Male Discrimination

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Efforts to ensure greater “diversity” in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) jobs have resulted in discrimination against men, a study by Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) has found.

The study found 84 percent of approximately 220 universities offer single-sex scholarships, many in the STEM field, a practice that is only permissible under Title IX if the “overall effect” of scholarships is equitable.

SAVE explains in its study, “If an institution offers 2 male-specific scholarships and 8 female-specific scholarships, the difference is 6, so that institution is classified as Discriminatory. A review, as of August 18, 2019, of over 200 colleges and universities in 36 states reveals 57% of institutions are engaged in scholarship practices that are facially discriminatory [meaning there is a difference of 5 or more scholarship opportunities]; 27% are Borderline [a difference of 2-4 scholarship opportunities]; and only 16% are Non-discriminatory [a difference of 0-1 scholarships]."

SAVE intends to file complaints against approximately 185 campuses from the study if they do not provide satisfactory answers to questions about their scholarship practices, the LA Times reports.

SAVE President Everett Bartlett points to the findings as an example of overzealous obsession with achieving a sort of arbitrary quota. “The pendulum has swung too far in the other direction,” said Bartlett. “We’re not a society based on quotas, we’re a society based on fairness.”

Emily Martin of the National Women’s Law Center defends the female-focused programs and claims they are allowable under Title IX as affirmative action to overcome the conditions that resulted in “limited participation” of one gender in any particular educational program.

“There’s a pretty well-organized and well-financed movement that is pushing out the false narrative that men are the victims of feminism,” said Martin, the center’s vice president for education and workplace justice.

Critics wonder, also, whether there is actually a crisis in which women are overwhelmingly absent from the STEM fields. A 2018 report by the National Science Foundation notes that women have earned about half of all science and engineering degrees overall since the 1990s, and that their achievements varied depending on the field. While women comprise more than half of the undergraduate degrees in biological sciences, for example, they make up just 20 percent of the engineering degrees. But that likely reflects the fact that women are going into fields that interest them — which is what real fairness is all about.

The NSF also found that women hold just 28 percent of science and engineering jobs, despite making up more than half of the US college-educated workforce. Of course, there are a number of factors that could explain this discrepancy. In fact, according to researchers at Georgetown University in a 2017 working paper, efforts to drive women toward STEM jobs may be hurting female participation in the STEM field. Adriana D. Kugler, a professor at Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy, contends efforts to mentor and recruit women specifically in the STEM fields actually reinforces the notion that STEM is for men, and that may be keeping women out of STEM jobs.

“While men may not have a natural ability advantage in STEM fields, the numerous government and other policy initiatives designed to get women interested in STEM fields may have the unintended effect of signaling to women an inherent lack of fit,” the Georgetown report reads.

Given the overwhelming female domination in neurobiology, environmental biology, and biology of global health, it is a fallacy to assert that STEM fields are inherently male and dominated by men. “Society keeps telling us that STEM fields are masculine fields, that we need to increase the participation of women in STEM fields, but that kind of sends a signal that it’s not a field for women, and it kind of works against keeping women in these fields,” Kugler explains. 

Yet the Social Justice Warriors have manufactured a crisis by creating arbitrary quotas for STEM fields that are not being met, prompting the immediate knee-jerk reaction to institute policies that unfairly discriminate against males while simultaneously deterring women from entering those fields. And a vicious cycle occurs.

But there's just one problem. Title IX is supposed to protect students from discriminatory actions by overzealous Social Justice Warriors. If Title IX is truly intended to ensure fairness and equitable distribution of resources, female-only programs and scholarships are clearly in violation. Section 106.37 of Title IX states financial assistance should not limit eligibility for such assistance or discriminate “on the basis of sex.” It states financial aid may be designated to a particular sex “provided, that the overall effect of the award of such sex-restricted scholarships, fellowships, and other forms of financial assistance does not discriminate on the basis of sex.”

Title IX outlines its procedures to ensure “nondiscriminatory awards of assistance:”

(i) Students are selected for award of financial assistance on the basis of nondiscriminatory criteria and not on the basis of availability of funds restricted to members of a particular sex;

(ii) An appropriate sex-restricted scholarship, fellowship, or other form of financial assistance is allocated to each student selected under paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section; and

(iii) No student is denied the award for which he or she was selected under paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section because of the absence of a scholarship, fellowship, or other form of financial assistance designated for a member of that student's sex.

According to the LA Times, the U.S. Department of Education currently has two dozen investigations into universities that offer female-only scholars, awards, professional development workshops, and camps.

Erin Buzuvis, a Title IX expert and law professor at Western New England University, agrees that an examination of programs that segregate on the basis of sex is worthwhile.

“We need to be skeptical ... of any segregation projects,” she said, “because the risk of treating people unequally on the basis of sex is promoting stereotypes.”

Buzuvis also observes the drive to enforce equality in fields dominated by a particular sex has been one-sided, as there are seemingly little to no efforts to increase men in female-dominated fields such as nursing and teaching. Buzuvis's observation seems to reinforce the perception that female-only programs and scholarships are less about equality and more about being anti-male.

Photo: 12963734 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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