September 22, 2006

GAO Report Calls for Federal Enforcement to Ensure Equal Educational Opportunities for Women, Girls

Wyden, Boxer requested GAO report to study enforcement of Title IX Statute

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) today announced the release of a report that looks at whether women are receiving equal treatment and opportunities in the fields of math, science and engineering under the Title IX statute. After listening to testimony from concerned scientists at a Senate hearing in 2002, Wyden and Boxer requested a General Accounting Office (GAO) study to determine whether federal agencies were enforcing Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in all aspects of federally funded education programs. The final report finds that there is inadequate federal enforcement of Title IX and recommends that, "all federal agencies fully comply with the compliance review requirements of Title IX in order to ensure that grantees are fully meeting their Title IX obligations."

"At a time when our country is in need of more scientists and engineers, and when women and girls are most underrepresented in the hard sciences, the time to close this gender gap is now," said Wyden. "The report released today confirms that the federal government needs to take action to make certain that the Title IX statute is working to provide equal opportunities and access for women and girls not just on the playing field but also in the classroom."

"This Report confirms what we suspected in 2002, that decades after the passage of Title IX, women still lag behind men in the fields of mathematics, engineering and science," said Boxer. "The good news is that women have made some gains. The bad news is that federal agencies responsible for enforcing Title IX have not used all the tools at their disposal to completely level the playing field for women in these areas. I join my colleague, Senator Wyden, in calling on the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, NASA and the National Science Foundation to move quickly to ensure that the promise of Title IX is kept."

The GAO report finds that there is little awareness that Title IX applies not only to the inclusion of women and girls in sports programs, but also to academics. Additionally, it shows that many students and staff are reluctant to file complaints under the statute for fear of reprisal or retribution from supervisors or colleagues, or fear that filing complaints would take away time from research activities.

Wyden announced the release of the report earlier today at a press conference alongside Marcia Greenberger, the National Women's Law Center President; Dr. Nancy Hopkins, MIT Professor; and Donna Nelson, Oklahoma University Professor. Nearly 100 scientists and engineers have sent a letter to President Bush urging him to direct federal agencies to fully comply with their Title IX requirements.