Girls are being excluded at an alarming rate from vocational programs in the higher-paying trades, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) announced today. Nationwide, male students make up the majority of students in drafting, computer installation and repair, carpentry, and automotive classes while females make up 90 percent of the students in child development, health care, and cosmetology – fields that tend to pay half that of the male-dominated trades. “There are just stunning patterns of sex segregation in schools across the country,” said Jocelyn Samuels, NWLC Vice President and Director of Educational Opportunities. Samuels cited inattention and lack of perception of the problem as major obstacles to women in career education.
The NWLC plans to file legal petitions today in all 12 regions of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, requesting investigations into whether vocational and technical high schools and classes violate Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. They will also be demanding that action be taken to remedy any noncompliance with Title IX – including the fact that several states do not have Title IX coordinators, a violation of the law.
Much attention has been placed on Title IX – which marks its 30th anniversary this year – since the Bush Administration announced its plans to reinterpret the law to more easily allow for the creation of single-sex public schools. Women’s rights groups see this initiative as an attempt to gut protections provided by the law and as a step backward for women’s equality.