A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n



What's Working in the U.S.


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We extend our greetings to all delegations and participants who are assembling in Beijing and in your own communities to improve the condition of women worldwide by the Year 2000.

With your cooperation, the UN Commission on the Status of Women has offered exemplary leadership in this worldwide effort to improve the condition of women and girls. During this decade the Commission involved millions of men and women in pursuit of equality, development, and peace with particular emphasis on achieving equality between men and women in decision making; equal access to resources for human development -- particularly education; and achieving worldwide peace by the Year 2000.

A key pursuit of the United States is to maintain our democracy and help all of the American people make the most of their own lives. This brochure highlights national policies, successful initiatives and effective programs administered by the United States Department of Education to improve conditions for women and girls through education, training and research.

Many of the policies and programs in education that advance the status of women were established by legislation to eliminate discrimination against women in the United States. Some of these programs reflect nationwide efforts to advance the status of women in the United States. Other initiatives promote local activities that encourage women and girls of every age and background to complete education and training which will lead to productive citizenship and economic independence.

The United States Department of Education looks forward to working with you to advance the status of women and girls, especially in the fields of science, technology, and mathematics. Access to education has proven to be the most effective means for women and girls to escape the limitations of discrimination and reach their full potential. We are convinced that expanding education for women and girls worldwide will be a powerful and liberating force for achieving the shared goals of equality, development and peace by the Year 2000.

Richard W. Riley
Secretary of Education


Madeleine M. Kunin
Deputy Secretary of Education


Today, more than half of the population of the United States is female. Women are assuming greater leadership and decision-making roles in our families, communities, and every sector of the workforce, including national, state and local governments.

Education has been the foundation on which Americans rely to become productive and economically independent citizens, able parents, leaders and full participants in a racially and culturally diverse society. It is vital to the future growth of our nation that women and girls have equal educational opportunity and share equally in the benefits of education.

Education is primarily a state and local responsibility, and improving the quality of education is a national priority. The federal government is an active partner with states, local education agencies, community and nonprofit organizations, and others in promoting education for all learners.


The United States has encouraged an educational environment in which the contributions and accomplishments of individuals are recognized and appreciated regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, age, or economic status. Americans have been successful in identifying and eliminating many overt barriers that impede women and girls from participating equally in the educational system by:

Because of these national strategies, significant improvements were made during the last decade in providing access to education and training programs that affect the lives of women and girls. However, more remains to be done.


In the last few years, the United States took bold steps to strengthen and improve education outcomes for students at all levels of education, including individuals with disabilities, and individuals of diverse economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. Key to this effort is the implementation of a set of national education goals adopted by the United States in 1994 through the GOALS 2000: Educate America Act:

Guided by these goals, the United States will continue to promote and advance the education of women and girls at all levels through a variety of means such as safer schools, better discipline, higher academic standards, improved teaching, greater family involvement, improved access to college, and community-based solutions to educational improvement.


Research and Dissemination

Federal support for research and information dissemination is an important resource for educators throughout the United States. By sharing information about model programs and practices that promote equity in education, including equal access for individuals with disabilities to the education and economic systems, the federal government provides practical services to state and local education agencies.

For example, at a federally sponsored research and training center, staff survey the problems women with disabilities encounter in rearing children, and develop and disseminate solutions, which may include providing education and health training, developing adaptive parenting technology, and assisting these women with lifelong planning.

The federal government also supports statistical analyses, research, studies, and evaluations to increase understanding of equity issues in education. The findings and recommendations from the research are disseminated through publications as well as through federally funded programs such as the Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA) Program and the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) System.

Educating the Girl Child

Supporting systemwide education reform at the state and local levels is a key goal of the federal government. Improving teaching practices to address the diverse learning needs of every student, giving every child the opportunity to tackle challenging assignments in all subject matter -- regardless of gender, race, disability, socioeconomic background, or native language -- and helping students stay in school, are all essential to this process. The following are examples of initiatives supported by the federal government:

Women's Pursuit of Higher Education

The increase in female graduates from colleges and graduate schools is a significant accomplishment for the United States. The federal government provides financial assistance for higher education through grants and loans to students, and through programs that provide unique opportunities for women.

Preparation for Nontraditional Careers

The federal government invests in state and local governments and works with industry to develop new strategies to encourage women and girls to participate in education and training programs that result in higher paying jobs with growth potential. Federally supported vocational education programs and programs supported under the School-to-Work Opportunities Act help to increase employment opportunities for women and girls, particularly in new and emerging occupations. For example:

Family Literacy and Lifelong Learning

Cooperative arrangements between schools and families of the children they teach are also a vital resource for improving literacy and basic education skills for women and girls. Some literacy programs allow parents and their children to learn together. When these programs emphasize collaborative efforts with other community, educational, and social service agencies the benefits to both the parent and the child increase. Family literacy projects supported by the Even Start Program, the Parental Assistance Program, and the Adult Education Act help to break the cycle of intergenerational illiteracy. For example:


The federal government provides information on high quality resources to organizations and individuals interested in promoting equity in the United States and around the world. Information on a wide variety of topics dealing with the education of women and girls can be accessed through the Internet, or the products may be ordered from a central distributor such as the WEEA Publishing Center or the ERIC system.

ERIC is the largest education database. It contains approximately 800,000 abstracts, including digests, research reports, and curriculum materials. Paper or microfiche documents are available from the ERIC system, which can be searched via Internet or at about 3,000 locations around the world using CD-ROM or other computer networks.

Publicly accessible electronic forums on the Internet provide ameans of communication among groups of individuals who subscribe (often for free) to participate in discussions and to exchange information on resources related to their interests. Some of these discussion lists maintain related databases. For example, the Women's Studies List keeps an updated file of gender-related electronic forums both in, and outside of, education.

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This page last updated June 13, 2001 jcl