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Title Nine Nonsense

Women and money, finance, generic woman gender symbol over money and numbers
CBS/The Early Show
This column was written by Carrie Lukas.
Consistency isn't a concept particularly valued by feminists. Feminists deny there are natural differences between men and women — except that women are more empathetic, more verbally adept, and less violent than men. Differences can exist, but only if they are in the female's favor.

According to the National Journal, some officials at the National Science Foundation and Education Department share the feminists' immunity to cognitive dissonance. They are exploring Title IX's applications to specific areas of study, but only in disciplines where Title IX's application will benefit women.

It's well-known that fewer women study the hard sciences than men. As the National Journal details, men earned about 80 percent of engineering degrees in 2001 and 75 percent of degrees in computer science. Universities, non-profits, and the government pour money into programs to address this discrepancy by encouraging more women to pursue these fields.

Academics frequently meet to ponder the particular problem. Larry Summers was at such a conference when he speculated that innate differences in ability might play a role. Dr. Summers should have realized that, for the gender warriors that populate academia, there is only one acceptable explanation — discrimination — for women's under-representation in the upper echelons of science and math. His mistake contributed to the loss of his job as Harvard's president.

The specter of discrimination fuels current efforts to apply Title IX to science departments. The National Journal reports that Education Department officials are investigating specific campuses with departments suspected of treating women "differently." The officials declined to name specific universities under investigation, leaving university administrators to feel as though they are all potential targets.

But why limit the investigation to science and engineering departments? If the Department of Education is interested in the numbers game, then they should be just as concerned about areas in which women dominate men. Women earn nearly eight in ten degrees in education and psychology, and six in ten degrees in accounting and biology. Overall, women earn 58 percent of bachelor's degrees. The ratio among African Americans is even more skewed, with women earning nearly two-thirds of all bachelor's degrees.

The increasingly poor performance of young men is the most significant, troubling trend in American education. Imagine if this trend were reversed and men's academic achievement were soaring relative to women's. Women's groups would howl and the media would be awash in stories covering the crisis.

For years, the only way that a university could inoculate itself from Title IX litigation was to have athletic participation mirror enrollment. In other words, if 58 percent of students were women, then 58 percent of athletes had to be women. Universities trying to meet this criterion struggled to attract female athletes. But, all too often, they resorted to the surefire method of balancing the equation: eliminating men's teams. More than 90 universities cut men's track and field, and more than 20 cancelled wrestling.

If similar standards were applied to academic departments, university biology and accounting programs would be forced to try desperately to attract young men to the major. But if they fell short, they could opt to expel women to make the numbers balance. Engineering programs would face the inverse problem: attracting women and cutting men.

Gender warriors may be willing to take this deal. Feminists hardly celebrate that women gravitate toward majors like education that lead to lower-paying jobs after graduation. They may embrace a policy that pushes women toward more prestigious careers. But if academic departments are fair game, then why shouldn't similar standards be applied to enrollment?

If Title IX were applied to enrollment, schools would face the uncomfortable proposition of trying to attract more men or artificially reduce women's enrollment to reach the magic proportional balance. To achieve enrollment parity today, more than one million women would have to be expelled from colleges and universities around the country.

It's ridiculous to imagine a quota system taken to this extreme. And, of course, men would gain little from the enforcement of such a quota system. They wouldn't receive a better education or be better prepared to participate in the modern economy if women were denied educational opportunities. Policymakers concerned about the lack of men in higher education need to focus on root causes, such as the government-run public-school monopoly that often fails to educate children.

Expanding Title IX is not the answer, and the Bush administration knows this. The administration has courageously taken on Title IX fanatics by providing much-needed clarity about how schools can comply with Title IX in the athletic arena through the use of surveys, instead of relying sole on proportionality. It's unlikely they'll let this effort move forward. But the news that some agency bureaucrats are seeking to selectively apply Title IX to academic disciplines is a reminder of how the gender warriors' bias infects government policy.

Feminists are consistent about one thing — they consistently ignore problems facing American men.

Carrie Lukas is the vice president for policy and economics at the Independent Women's Forum, and the author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex, and Feminism," forthcoming from Regnery Publishing.
By Carrie Lukas.
Reprinted with permission from National Review Online