When feminists attempted to open up college sports opportunities for women via federal Title IX regulations, national enforcement of these rules had the perhaps unintended consequence of hastening the demise of men’s teams at the collegiate level. Now they are attempting something much more ambitious—the feminization of science.
In the latest issue of The American,
Christina Hoff Sommers
reports on legislation making its way through the U. S. Congress designed to lessen the male dominance of the hard sciences. Additionally, the Bush Administration has already funneled millions of dollars to colleges and universities to study and implement proposals and policies seeking to increase female representation in the sciences, whether women want to work in them or not.
Sommers is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, which publishes The American. “On October 17, 2007, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology convened to learn why women are ‘underrepresented’ in academic professorships of science and engineering and to consider what the federal government should do about it,” Sommers writes. “As a rule, women tend to gravitate to fields such as education, English, psychology, biol¬ogy, and art history, while men are much more numerous in physics, mathematics, computer science, and engineering.”
“Why this is so is an interesting question—and the subject of a sub¬stantial empirical literature,” Sommers notes. “The research on gender and vocation is complex, vibrant, and full of reasonable disagreements; there is no single, simple answer.”
But that didn’t faze either the congressmen or the witnesses. “All five expert wit¬nesses, and all five congressmen, Democrat and Republican, were in complete accord,” writes Sommers. “They attributed the dearth of women in university science to a single cause: sexism.”
The witnesses included:
• Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami;
• Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus; and
• Kathie Olsen, deputy director of the National Science Foundation.
“Ultimately, our goal is to transform, institution by institution, the entire culture of science and engineering in America, and to be inclusive of all—for the good of all,” Olsen told the committee. In this, she is continuing the work of Dr. Rita Rossi Colwell, a Clinton Administration appointee who stayed on as NSF director through most of President Bush’s first term.
I wrote about Dr. Colwell’s policies, and the Bush Administration’s adherence to them, in an article that appeared three years ago in The American Enterprise, as The American was known in its former incarnation. “The NSF awards more than half a billion dollars a year in engineering grants to engineers seeking to further their education in the field,” I reported in June 2005. “About 80 percent of engineers are men.”
“Yet fully half of the recipients of the NSF engineering grants in 2004—
when $541,700,000 was handed out—were women.” Conversely, the ratio of women to men matched up in the balance of the profession matched up among the NSF rejects but not in the way you might have expected it to.
“Among the honorable mentions of students who were not awarded NSF engineering grants, but were exceptional enough to be acknowledged, fully 80 percent were men in the last contest,” I wrote. “Thus, the agency’s rejections are a mirror image of the profession, even if its awards are highly unbalanced.”
“In specific sub-fields the proportions are even more skewed,” I pointed out. “Among environmental engineers, for instance, the proportion of awards to women was nearly the reverse of trends in the profession as a whole.”
“Women made up nearly nine out of ten NSF grant recipients.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.