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December 17, 2009 7:11 PM Gender Bias and Title IX

By Daniel Luzer

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The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has announced new information about its investigation into gender bias at American colleges. According to the Associated Press:

The probe by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is focusing on whether some colleges favor men by admitting them at higher rates than women, or by offering them more generous aid packages. Commission members voted Wednesday to authorize subpoenas for 19 universities….
Women outnumber men nearly 60 percent to 40 percent in higher education nationally. The probe grew out of anecdotal evidence and news accounts that admissions officials are discriminating against women to promote a more even gender mix, said commission spokeswoman Lenore Ostrowsky.

The colleges under investigation are Catholic University of America, University of Delaware, Gettysburg College, Georgetown University, Goldey-Beacom College, Goucher College, Howard University, Johns Hopkins University, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Loyola College, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Messiah College, University of Richmond, Shepherd University, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Virginia Union University, Washington College, and York College of Pennsylvania.

This is not, it’s important to note, an investigation because the commission suspects these colleges in particular of gender bias. These are merely schools close to the DC area meant to be taken as a representative sample of American schools to determine if they engage in biased admissions and scholarship practices against women to try and get more men into college.

Many view this inquiry into admissions bias as a sneak attack on Title IX, the 1972 law banning sex discrimination that features prominently in funding for school athletics. If the number of women in college has grown so much in recent years, it does beg a question about whether Title IX protection is appropriate today.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer