Follow The Republic:
When Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor Julia Lamber joined the school’s faculty in the early 1970s, she ran into a couple of problems organizing a panel about women pursuing “nontraditional” career paths.
“We found the one woman doctor and the one woman lawyer in the area,” she said in an email. “We could not come up with a woman dentist.”
That’s no longer the case.
Today, she said, nearly 50 percent of all law students and more than 45 percent of all dental students are women.
Despite what typically comes to mind at the mention of “Title IX,” the original proponents of the legislation weren’t thinking so much about the playing field as they were the classroom.
“I think Title IX’s biggest effect has been in changing the landscape of higher education and changing the workplace through opening up occupations,” said Lamber, who takes special interest in Title IX legislation.
When Rep. Edith Green, D-Ore., began addressing issues of gender-based discrimination in 1970, Lamber said, the spotlight shone primarily on access to higher education. This included issues of different admission standards for men and women, quotas and outright exclusion of women from post-undergraduate programs.
When Title IX passed in 1972, change in the academic setting occurred quickly.
The shifting academic environment triggered change in the workforce as well. Women began pursuing post-undergraduate degrees at a higher level, which led to increased opportunities for women to move up in their chosen fields.
In 2010, as indicated by studies from the Council of Graduate Schools, the number of women receiving doctoral degrees surpassed that of men for the first time ever.
“There’s certainly more women in leadership roles (in elementary and secondary school administration) than 40 years ago,” said Linda DeClue, assistant superintendent for human resources at Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.
While her experience at a Catholic elementary school included mostly nuns as administrators, everything changed once she entered middle school.
“Every principal and assistant principal from junior high through high school was male,” she recalled. “If you think about superintendents, very few were female.”
Today, of the district’s 18 schools, there are 18 female administrators — principals, assistant principals and department heads.
Aside from elementary and secondary education, the trend is also seen in public institutions of higher learning.
“When I was a new faculty member in the early 1970s, there were few enough women faculty on the Bloomington campus that we all knew each other,” Lamber said. “There were no women as deans, vice presidents or provosts.”
According to a 2009 study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, women accounted for about 49 percent of professional staff members at public four-year institutions of higher learning, and about 50 percent of executive, administrative and managerial roles belonged to women.
Part of the recent shift, IUPUC Vice Chancellor Marwan Wafa said, can be attributed to changing attitudes.
“I think there’s more openness,” he said. “Not just openness, but I think a focused effort to encourage and develop skills either of internal individuals or seek skilled females who could be faculty or leaders to join higher education.”
More room to improve
Despite the changes, there are still discrepancies between the areas in which women choose to focus, Lamber said, adding there are noticeably fewer women in science-, math- and technology-related fields.
While 61 percent of the women receiving doctoral degrees in 2008 and 2009 specialized in public administration and services, only 22 percent pursued degrees in engineering.
“I finished my undergraduate at Kuwait University, and I remember that almost 40 or 50 percent of the engineering students were females. That’s a long time ago, but it’s also overseas,” Wafa said. “So, is it an issue of gender or is it an issue of perceptions of the attractiveness of the field?”
In an attempt to encourage and support women entering engineering, Columbus residents Tom and Christine Vujovich started a scholarship fund, which Wafa said allows IUPUC to address the gap in a concrete way. Christine “Tina” Vujovich, a retired Cummins Inc. employee, hold’s a master’s degree in environmental engineering.
Wafa said Title IX is becoming more of a practice and less something IUPUC actively thinks about. The institution’s personnel are evaluated annually to ensure discrimination does not infiltrate the workplace, he said, but he has never been notified of any complaints.
The school also examines patterns of student involvement to ensure women receive equal opportunity.
“But we have more female students on this campus than males. In fall 2011, for undergraduate, we had 69 percent. Almost 70 percent of our student population is female,” he said. “I think we’re doing something right.”
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.