~Lauren M. Ruhland, SET intern
Title IX, the federal regulation mandating gender equality in public education, has been subject to controversial interpretations since its inception in 1972. Most commonly, Title IX debates surrounded funding for women’s athletics programs at the high school and college levels. Today, John Tierney of the New York Times writes that some would like Title IX intervention in order to establish a stronger feminine presence in the hard sciences:
The members of Congress and women’s groups who have pushed for science to be “Title Nined” say there is evidence that women face discrimination in certain sciences, but the quality of that evidence is disputed. Critics say there is far better research showing that on average, women’s interest in some fields isn’t the same as men’s.
In other words, women aren’t avoiding science because the lab has a prohibitive glass ceiling. It’s that there are so many other appealing choices out there. Even as somebody who’s been known to don heels and pearls for an date with D. melanogaster, I’m not counting on spending my career shackled to a lab bench. Marie Curie, Maria Mitchell, and Rosalind Franklin were able to harness their passions to make groundbreaking scientific discoveries, and for that they should be admired. However, women who chose to reach for other dreams should not be held up to an ideal they never embraced.