Tag: title ix

Don’t Pop That Champagne Yet

 With its 40th birthday coming on June 23rd, we’ll likely be hearing more and more plaudits for Title IX, the federal law banning gender discrimination in federally funded education activities. But it is hardly clear that the law was either necessary, or beneficial.

It’s certainly not an open-and-shut case, for instance, that Title IX broke open lots of opportunities in higher education that wouldn’t otherwise have existed – yet been in demand – for women. A quick look at women’s percentage of total college enrollment shows that females were gaining classroom seats at a big clip well before 1972. According to federal data, between 1947 and 1972 women’s share of total enrollment was growing at a pace of 0.56 percentage points per year, rising from 29.0 percent to 43.1 percent. From 1972 until 2010, in contrast, the growth was only 0.37 percentage points per year, hitting 57.0 percent in 2010.

Those figures don’t prove, of course, that there was and is no discrimination against women in higher education. They do, however, show that women were moving headlong into college well before Title IX, and today are so much larger a percentage of total enrollees than men that most colleges would be in serious jeopardy were they to deny them things they want. It also suggests that cultural acceptance of women in college and other new roles was changing well before the law was passed, and cultural evolution has probably had a lot more to do with new opportunities opening for women than Title IX.

There are many other powerful arguments to be made against Title IX – the strange preoccupation with sports opens up a slew of them all by itself – but also potent points to be made in its favor. That’s why on June 20th Cato will be hosting a lively debate on the law with both pro- and anti-Title IX speakers. You can register to attend here, or follow the debate online.

It might be Title IX’s birthday, but one of its presents should not be an absence of tough, fair scrutiny.

C/P from the National Journal‘s “Education Experts” blog.

UConn’s Streak and Title IX

Last night, the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team broke the college hoops consecutive win record of 88 games set by UCLA’s men in the early 1970s. In anticipation of this, UConn coach Geno Auriemma caused a bit of a stir by accusing some male sports fans of being upset because a women’s team was threatening a record set by men.

This does not compute. Somewhere there might be a man upset by this – though I haven’t heard one – but I don’t see why: The UCLA men beat men’s teams, the UConn women have beaten women’s teams. It says nothing bad about men that a women’s team has a longer win streak.

Where there might be en element of gender conflict at play is in how UConn got to this point. According to CBSSports.com columnist Gregg Doyel, UConn hasn’t just beaten other teams during its streak, it’s crushed numerous squads that at least by ranking ought to have been competitive with UConn. (It clobbered 22nd-ranked Florida State by 31 points for win number 89.) The talent pool in women’s basketball, Doyel argues, just isn’t deep enough to produce several teams of UConn’s calibre.

Assuming Doyel is correct, why isn’t there the same depth of talent in women’s hoops as has existed in men’s college basketball since at least the end of UCLA’s streak?

Quite possibly, because there aren’t nearly as many women who care about competing in sports, including basketball, at the highest levels as there are men. It’s a very real possibility supported not only by UConn’s dominance, but by what appears to be a strong tendency of other top women’s teams to win games by relatively lopsided margins, and, most tellingly, by significant athletics evidence beyond hoops. All of that, however, flies in the face of the implicit rationale of Title IX, the federal statute requiring colleges to offer equal athletic opportunities to men and women. The law assumes that colleges that fail to offer proportionate roster spots are discriminating against girls, but the reality is that women might just not want to play sports as fervently as men.

UConn’s dominance might be just one more bit of evidence that it is time to stop assuming that there is rampant,  sexist ill will when it comes to college sports, and for government to let people freely choose what interests they pursue. At the very least, it would probably make a lot of people happier than they’d be getting destroyed by the UConn women’s basketball team.

‘Politicians’ Top 10 Promises Gone Wrong’

That’s the title of an upcoming FOX News Channel feature program with John Stossel, in which Cato Executive Vice President David Boaz and Director of Health Policy Studies Michael F. Cannon weigh in on some of the hidden, unforeseen, and unintended consequences of the attempts to deliver on promises our politicians make.

Politicians promised that:

  1. Cash for Clunkers would save the auto industry.
  2. Increasing the minimum wage would be good for the working poor.
  3. Title IX would end gender-based discrimination in college sports.
  4. Mega-construction projects like stadiums, arenas, and conference centers would create jobs.
  5. Changing the tax code would save small farmers and the environment.
  6. Credit card reform would save us from banking fees.
  7. Reforming the health care system would give us more affordable and more comprehensive care.
  8. Ethanol would reduce our dependence on foreign oil and save the environment.
  9. Home ownership for all would be good for America.

And the #1 promise politicians made that went awry?

Tune in to FOX News Channel this Friday, December 17, 2010 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern to find out. Use the #10Promises hashtag on Twitter during the program to follow the conversation.

Kindly note that while John Stossel’s programs normally air on the FOX Business Network, this feature program will appear on the FOX News Channel.

No Cheers for Title IX

For supporters of Title IX, it’s time to put down the pom-poms.

From the start, Title IX has been an unnecessary and destructive imposition of government and bureaucracy into college sports, substituting regulation and litigation for the free choices of women and men. But yesterday’s ruling that competitive cheerleading isn’t a sport – a decision worth reading just for its brilliant illustration of the torturous athlete-accounting and word-parsing Title IX demands – highlights how truly absurd it has become.

For one thing, tell the women (and men) in competitive cheer that it isn’t a sport – most would probably beg to differ. Much more important, when we have judges ruling what does or does not constitute a sport we have clearly given up way too much freedom in our supposedly free society. Finally, the very basis for Title IX – the notion that women will be systematically and unfairly barred from various activities by misogynistic colleges – just makes no sense, especially today. The fact is, women make up the very large majority of college students, and hence can dictate terms to schools. At least, they can dictate terms if schools want to keep competing in the sport we call “staying in business.”

Which brings us to what probably really scares Title IX fans: Women almost certainly don’t want to participate in intercollegiate athletics as much as men do, a likelihood evidenced by everything from hugely greater male participation in open-access intramural sports, to men choosing ESPN and women choosing Facebook while on the Web. The problem, of course, is that to admit that would be to lose the ability to push schools around with the big ol’ federal government.

Ending Title IX Survey a “No-Brainer”?

When kids want to know if other kids want to play a game they just ask, “Hey, wanna play?”

Apparently, that kind of straightforward interest assessment won’t cut it with the Obama administration, which today announced that it is eliminating the option for schools to survey women about their desires to play intercollegiate sports in order to comply with Title IX.  The only safe way for schools to comply with the law, as a result, will be to have men and women participate in athletics in almost perfect proportion to their share of total enrollment, and without regard to how potentially disproportionate their desires to play.

In announcing the logic-leaping change, Vice President Biden said it was a “no-brainer.” That’s true, but not in the way Biden intended.

The main problem, though, almost certainly isn’t that Title IX supporters can’t see how obvious and straightforward a survey is for assessing interest in playing sports.  The main problem is likely that many supporters don’t actually want women to be able to express their interest, lest its relative paucity be revealed. And, a survey would almost certainly show a big interest gap, as evidenced by three to four times as many men playing college intramural sports, or men flocking to sports sites on the internet while women clearly prefer social networking.

Of course, the fairest way to judge women’s interest in intercollegiate athletics isn’t a survey – which can’t easily capture intensity of interest – but letting women reveal their preferences by freely choosing between schools that offer lots of athletic opportunities and schools that don’t.  And don’t say that that wouldn’t work because women would be systematically barred from the playing fields: Constituting nearly 57 percent of enrollment at four-year schools, colleges have huge incentives to offer women what they want.  Which seems, sadly, to be exactly what Title IX supporters are afraid of.