“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Today, June 23, 2012, marks the 40 year anniversary of a landmark piece of legislation. Title IX, which was signed by President Nixon in 1972. While most often associated with equality in sports that was only a small piece of the original legislation. It was meant to level the field in opportunities for men and women in education, including the kinds of classes and extra curricular activities they were allowed to participate in. The law was designed to prevent sex discrimination and harassment in educational activities and programs. The areas it covers includes fairness in admissions and financial aid, freedom to take any vocational course, and allowing pregnant students access to education.
But looking around the educational system, excluding sports where this year an equal number of men and women will compete in the Olympics, a stigma still exists in vocational classes. The promise of Title IX was that girls would be allowed into traditionally male classes like auto-mechanics and carpentry, and that boys would visa versa be allowed into traditionally female classes such as home economics or cosmetology. How often does that actually happen? I would guess that you are more likely to see a girl in shop than a boy in home ec, but still there is a strong acceptance of one sex over the other in such classes. We still have a ways to go before it is not seen as degrading or insulting for a man to be doing traditionally “feminine” activities. Part of the problem is family pressure and the way children are raised, boys are praised for being “masculine” and girls for being “feminine.” We have to change the stigma. Parents and teachers need to be accepting of a child’s dream, whether or not it bucks traditionalism. So, to those who say Title IX is no longer needed, I respectfully disagree.
Update: I came across this cartoon after I originally published this post. I think it relates.