ERIC Number: ED483237
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Jul
Gender Issues: Women's Participation in the Sciences Has Increased, but Agencies Need to Do More to Ensure Compliance with Title IX. Report to Congressional Requesters. GAO-04-639
Ashby, Cornelia M.
US Government Accountability Office
Because of concerns about women's access to opportunities in the sciences, this report addresses: how the Department of Education (Education), Department of Energy (Energy), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and National Science Foundation (NSF) ensure that federal grant recipient institutions comply with Title IX in math, engineering, and science; what data show about women's participation in these fields; and what promising practices exist to promote their participation. Researchers reviewed legislation and regulations to identify all areas of compliance relevant to each federal agency; interviewed officials at each agency; gathered documentation to identify agency activities to ensure compliance with Title IX; analyzed data from the Office of Civil Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; gathered data and interviewed officials at the Department of Justice; visited seven research universities to interview officials, students, and faculty; analyzed national data from Education and NSF on women's participation and experiences in the sciences; reviewed literature about women in the sciences and challenges to preparing for and pursuing careers in the sciences; spoke with students and practitioners about promising practices to promote women's participation; reviewed documentation on how data were collected and performed electronic tests to look for missing or out-of-range values; and reviewed the methodology of studies and reports using generally accepted social sciences principles as the basis for understanding results. The four agencies had made efforts to ensure that grantees complied with Title IX in the sciences by performing several compliance activities (e.g., investigating complaints and providing technical assistance), although most had not conducted all required monitoring activities. Women's participation in the sciences has increased substantially in the last 3 decades, especially in the life sciences, such as biology. The proportion of women science students has grown, but to a lesser extent at the graduate level than the undergraduate level. Meanwhile, the proportion of faculty in the sciences who are women has also increased, but they still lag behind men faculty in terms of salary and rank. However, studies indicate that experience, work patterns, and education levels can largely explain these differences. Studies also suggest that discrimination may still affect women's choices and professional progress. Several examples of agencies and grantees that have instituted practices designed to foster greater women's participation in the sciences were found. While some of the practices are aimed at encouraging more women to pursue the sciences, others provide time off and fewer teaching duties so faculty can balance work and family life. Finally, a few practices seek to expand the recruiting pool for jobs in the sciences and make them more attractive to women. Seven appendixes include: study objectives, scope, and methodology; national laboratories and technical centers; legal events and cases involving Title IX; mathematics, engineering, and science grant programs funded by the four agencies; comparison of enrollment status; comparison of enrollment and degrees earned; and comments from Education.
Descriptors: Women Scientists, Gender Issues, Females, Federal Legislation, Compliance (Legal), Public Agencies, Mathematics, Sciences, Engineering, Sex Fairness
U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room LM, Washington, DC 20548. Tel: 202-512-6000; TDD: 202-512-2537; Fax: 202-512-6061.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: General Accounting Office, Washington, DC.