The “Title Nining” of Academic Science

Whatever people prefer to call it, Title IX is a quota system that has caused plenty of damage in college sports, primarily by slashing men’s programs in the name of “proportionality.” As Christina Hoff Summers recently noted in The American, the gender warriors are now using Title IX to colonize new territory on campus, such as the math and science departments. In one sense they are right, because Title IX is not strictly about sports but educational opportunity. Women are certainly making the best of that.

As Christina notes, women now earn 57 percent of bachelors’ degrees and 59 percent of masters’ degrees. By the numbers, men are underrepresented, but nobody seems eager to hold hearings about that. Women earn more doctorates than men in the humanities, social sciences, education, and life sciences, but women comprise only19 percent of tenure-track professors in math, 11 percent in physics, 10 percent in computer science, and 10 percent in electrical engineering.

Those kind of numbers disturb people like Nancy Hopkins, a biologist and key attacker of Larry Summers when he was president of Harvard; Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami and secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration; Debra Rolison, a physical chemist at the Naval Research Laboratory; and Kathie Olsen, deputy director of the National Science Foundation. These and others decry a dearth of women in math and science and attribute it entirely to sexism. In their view, women’s choices and inclinations are irrelevant. They want a revolutionary transformation of American science itself and see Title IX as the best way to get what they want.

Christina has been monitoring this for some time, and notes that, eight years ago in 2000, Debra Rolison called for “title-nining” science by using the measure as an “implacable hammer” to gain attention. She got it, big time. After hearings in the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space, prominent Republicans and Democrats in the Senate joined with the gender warriors to declare that, as Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden said, “Title IX in math and science is the right way to start.” Christina disagrees, with good reason.

“There is no question that Title IX has led to men’s participation [in college sports] being calibrated to the level of women’s interest,” she writes. “That kind of cal¬ibration could devastate academic science.” She shows how the gender crusaders consider the “culture” of academic science to be intrinsically hostile to women. The evidence for this notion is apparent only to the gender warriors. They want a culture that minimizes competition, is less intensive, and certainly one that looks to gender quotas. That raises a key question about consequences.

Christina cites the more than 5,000 companies started in the past 50 years by MIT faculty, alumni, and staff alone. Would a quota-driven academic culture produce similar results? One doubts it, and Congress won’t ask such questions because members are too busy caving in to the gender warriors. Those warriors may not have facts and evidence on their side, but they do enjoy leverage in the form of Title IX compliance reviews, which are going on right now. Scientists may dislike such intrusions but they are not going away because most of the institutions where they work are dependent on federal funds.

Academic battles are seldom front-page news, and I am grateful to Christina for keeping an eye on this issue. She is certainly aware of what is at stake.

“American scientific excellence is a precious national resource,” she writes. “It is the foundation of our economy and of the nation’s health and safety.”

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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