April marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, legislation passed to ensure educational institutions do not discriminate on the basis of gender. That's why the American Association of University Women recently held a "Tweet-Up" with Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Four decades after the law passed, Secretary Duncan seems to remain largely ignorant of the serious ramifications of this legislation, which, in effect, has helped institutionalize gender inequality, quotas and preferences. During the Tweet-up Duncan wrote, "Contrary to conventional wisdom, since 1972 access to men's sports has not been diminished." He added, "T9 requires schools to offer equal athletic opps for men & women. It doesn't require schools to eliminate any teams."
Well, not exactly, Mr. Secretary.
In actuality, between 1981-2005 men's teams per school dropped 17 percent while women's teams rose by 34 percent. The reason is this: the proportional participation clause in Title IX, upheld by Duncan's own department, states that if the number of female athletes is not "proportional" to the number of women enrolled at an institution then the school is technically "discriminating."
This little line may be small enough for Duncan to forget, but it's significant enough to have schools scared silly. Colleges frequently end up cutting men's teams -- James Madison University alone cut ten teams in 2007, seven of which were male -- in order to balance the gender scales, meaning men's athletics have become dependent on women's interest and participation.
The problem with anti-discrimination legislation like Title IX is not with its intentions. The trouble is that the goal posts keep moving. It's not longer sufficient to have gender equality -- now feminists are seeking gender parity. Organizations like the AAUW fail to accept that men and women are different, and that they may choose to participate in different activities.
Duncan's ignorance -- or dishonesty -- about Title IX were additionally concerning because the AAUW and other feminist outlets would like to see Title IX-like legislation used to tackle disparities in academics, namely the "crisis" of women in math and science. In short, they want Congress to legislate parity in these disciplines, once again ignoring the real and important differences that exist between the genders. (Of course, this is always one-sided. I have yet to see the AAUW argue for more male English or Psychology majors. Nor have I seen any outrage about the shortage of male nurses.)
At some point, I hope feminists will begin to accept that men and women -- no matter how balanced the circumstances -- maintain different strengths and preferences. Because what is very clear is that legislation in the name of "gender equality" does not actually make men and women the same.
Sabrina L. Schaeffer is the executive director of the Independent Women's Forum.