A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o nTitle IX: 25 Years of Progress -- June 1997
Achieving Success Under Title IX
Title IX, as a landmark civil rights law, profoundly affects all aspects of schooling by requiring equal opportunity for females and males. By extension, it also affects equity in the labor market. The following highlights suggest many of the significant developments in gender equity that can be linked to Title IX.
Teenage Mother Allowed to Graduate
A parent in the Chicago area contacted the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) when her teenage daughter--who had given birth earlier in the year--was denied the opportunity to take a final examination because the teacher disapproved of the girl's pregnancy and her excused absences from school due to childbirth. Without a grade on the final exam, the student would not be allowed to graduate. OCR contacted the school district and received assurance that the student could take her exam. She did, and received her diploma.
Overall, both male and female students were more likely to take more sophisticated mathematics courses by 1992 than they were in 1982, with females less likely than males to take remedial mathematics, more likely to take algebra II, and just as likely to take trigonometry and calculus. The same is true for advanced science courses, with females more likely than males to study biology and just as likely to take chemistry, and boys more likely to study physics. In 1994, 68 percent of females took algebra, 70 percent took geometry, and 9 percent took calculus--similar to the percentage of males taking those courses. In the same year, 95 percent of females took biology and 59 percent took chemistry--higher than the rates of 92 and 53 percent, respectively, for their male classmates.
In college, many more women are majoring in math, as evidenced by the proportion of undergraduate degrees in math awarded to women: 47 percent in 1992, compared to 27 percent in 1962. This may be the result of the advances made in their preparation in high school in math and science during the decade 1982-1992, as shown in figure 3.
In 1992, women also earned the majority of associate's (296,800) and master's degrees (191,000), reversing the 1977 pattern of men earning the majority of them (207,500 and 161,800, respectively).
Between 1977 and 1994, the number of U.S. women earning doctoral degrees almost doubled, from just over 7,500 to almost 14,000. This represents a jump from 25 percent in 1977 to 44 percent in 1994 of total doctoral degrees conferred.
During the period 1972-1994, the percentage of first-professional degrees earned by women also rose dramatically: from 7 percent to 43 percent of all law degrees; from 9 percent to 38 percent of all medical degrees; and from 1 percent to 38 percent of all dental degrees. In veterinary science and pharmacy women earned the majority of degrees in 1994.
In certain nontraditional areas such as business, women's degrees increased dramatically, from 8 percent in 1962 to 47 percent in 1992. This development in particular is expected to have a profound impact on women's earnings potential: women who choose careers in nontraditional fields can expect to have lifetime earnings that are as much as 150 percent of those of women who choose careers in traditional fields.
"My personal experience has shown me that while the situation for women in science in the United States is by no means perfect, it is the best one in this world of ours."--Dominique Homberger, Swiss-born professor of zoology, Louisiana State University
Women are also increasing the number of science classes they take in college. In the biological sciences, for example, women earned only 28 percent of college degrees in 1962 but increased their proportion to 52 percent by 1992. The gap between men's and women's master's degrees in the life sciences, physical sciences, engineering and computer sciences has also narrowed over time. In 1950, only 175 women received bachelor's degrees in engineering--compared to more than 52,000 men. By 1966, women were earning a greater number of engineering degrees, but the proportion of the total was still less than one-half of 1 percent. By 1991, it had risen to more than 15 percent.
As the number of women who study the sciences increases, so does the proportion of women who receive graduate degrees in those fields. In 1993, women earned 20 percent of doctorates in science and engineering, up from less than 9 percent in 1973. At all levels--bachelor's, master's and doctoral--women's rates of receiving degrees have risen significantly in the fields of mathematical, physical, and biological sciences and engineering.
Women have also made significant inroads in speciality fields. For example, the proportion of women gynecologists/obstetricians rose from 8 percent in 1970 to 39 percent in 1995, an increase similar to increases in their numbers in the field of medicine overall. Just as medical schools had discouraged young women from admission, so had some nursing schools discouraged young men. In 1972, the rate of men graduating with nursing degrees was only 1 percent. In 1996, the rate rose to 5 percent.
Last Updated -- July 10, 1997, (pjk)