In a “Data Snapshot” published last June, the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education “highlights several differences in educational outcomes between males and females from prekindergarten,” including these:
1. 57% of students in postsecondary education are women.
2. Girls enrolled in gifted and talented education programs outnumber boys enrolled, e.g., 8.1% of girls participated in gifted and talented education programs in 2009 compared to 7.4% of boys.
3. By a large margin, girls are much less likely than boys to be held back one year. In 2009-2010 across all grade levels, 61% of the students held back for academic reasons were boys and only 39% were girls.
4. A greater percentage of girls in 7th or 8th grade (20%) are taking Algebra I compared to boys (18%), and girls of every race/ethnicity are passing Algebra I at a higher rate than their male peers.
5. High school girls are evenly represented in biology and outnumber boys in chemistry, but are underrepresented in physics.
6. Girls are equitably represented in rigorous high school math courses.
7. Girls outnumber boys in enrollment in AP science, AP foreign languages, and several other AP subjects. In AP mathematics (calculus and statistics), however, boys have consistently outnumbered girls by up to 10,000 students (about 215,000 girls vs. 225,000 boys).
8. For “Postsecondary Female Enrollment by Career Cluster,” women are over-represented in “Education and Training” (77.7%), “Health Science” (81.6%) and Marketing and Sales (60.7%). Women are under-represented in “Information Technology” (27.1%) and STEM (23.9%).
9. In 2009-10, females represented 62% of students receiving an associate’s degree, 57.4% of students receiving a bachelor’s degree, 62.6% of students receiving a master’s degree, and 53.3% of students receiving a doctorate degree.
10. Between 2000-01 and 2008-09, the number of degrees and certificates awarded in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields to women at degree-granting institutions increased by 5.9 percent. However, in 2008-09, 31.0% of the degrees and certificates in STEM fields were earned by women.
MP: Based on the data and outcomes above, you would think that girls are doing amazingly well throughout all levels of education, from prekindergarten to the doctoral level, compared to boys, right? Further, wouldn’t you think the data show that boys are falling behind by several measures and might need some special attention? For example, shouldn’t we be concerned that 156 boys are being held back for every 100 girls across all grade levels? And that boys are underrepresented in gifted and talented programs? And that men are significantly underrepresented in higher education by a ratio of 133 female students for every 100 male students?
According to the Department of Education, their main concern seems to be limited to one of the only remaining areas in education where men actually outnumber women (in a positive way) - STEM fields – and that isolated example of female under-representation means that the goal of “gender equity” in education has still not been reached?
The information…. and educational data….herein shows that – despite the enormous progress made in ensuring equal educational opportunities since the passage of Title IX in 1972 – much work remains if we are to achieve full gender equity among our nation’s students.
The newly revamped Civil Rights Data Collection reveals girls’ advances in particular science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses, while shedding light on continuing disparities in access to important courses like physics and AP math.
Despite women’s gains in some nontraditional fields as a whole, the rate of female enrollment in certain career clusters remains at persistently low levels. In 2009-2010, females made up less than 25% of participants in science, technology, engineering, and math programs nationally (21% at the secondary level and 24% at the postsecondary level).
Bottom Line: Let me summarize what I think is the position of the Office of Civil Rights: Only when women (men) are overrepresented (underrepresented) on every educational metric, including STEM, will we have reached the goal of “full gender equity.” The fact that men are undrepresented on almost all positive educational outcomes and overrepresented on negative outcomes (like being held back a grade for academic defiiency) is apparenly completely consistent with the Office of Civil RIght’s goal of “full gender equity,” which apparently inequitably only applies to one gender? Maybe I’m wrong. Comments welcome.
HT: Christina Sommers