Juanita Millender-McDonald

In Support of Title IX - June 19, 2002

Juanita Millender-McDonald
June 19, 2002— U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC
Congressional floor speech
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30 years. However, despite the gains made by Title IX, we still need to ensure that the promises of equal access to education and advancement in the workplace remain a reality for all women, particularly women of color.

I am concerned that since 1996, Congress has eliminated funding under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for programs that once supported Title IX and gender-equity services in 49 state education agencies.

  • About half of the states lack a dedicated employee to monitor compliance with Title IX as required, and the 10 federally funded Equity Assistance Centers have not received a funding increase in five years.
  • The Women’s Educational Equity Act, the federal government’s only program focused on creating education opportunities for girls and women, was overlooked in the President’s FY 2003 budget.
  • In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that individuals cannot file lawsuits under Title IX alleging retaliation.

There is clearly still a need to better educate the public about Title IX, and to chip away at the discrimination that impacts girls and women in education and in the workplace. We must remove any and all barriers that prevent women and girls from living up to their full potential. The truth is, Girls and women are woefully underrepresented in the critical area of technology.

  • There are glaring gaps in standardized testing across all races and ethnicities, therefore limiting women’s access to higher education institutions, financial aid, and career opportunities.
  • Women’s employment opportunities at colleges and universities declines as the prestige of the institution increases.
  • Women earn fewer doctoral and professional degrees than men do.
  • Sexual harassment is an ongoing deterrent to equal opportunity for women students, and gender bias is pervasive on many campuses.

Female students of color, those who are disabled, and girls from poor families are all faced with special challenges that haven’t yet been fully addressed. We must do more to enable our girls to grow up to become empowered women. We know that:

  • Women comprise almost 60% of part-time students and 58% of students of students age 24 and older.
  • Women attending a post secondary institution are twice as likely as their male counterparts to have dependents, and three times as likely to be single parents.
  • Financial aid budgets offer little allowance for dependent care, making many student parents reliant on friends and family, causing them to drop courses, or to leave school altogether.
  • From 1999-2000, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) found that women athletes got only 40% of scholarship funds in some athletic divisions, though this figure is an increase over the last nine years.

Another area of education where women are lagging behind men is in the education profession. When you look at elementary and secondary schools, fewer than 35% of principals are women, and only 21% of full professors are women, and a mere 19% of women head up our colleges and universities. The numbers are no better at elite institutions where women make up only 26.2% of the faculty.

We’ve got to do more to encourage our girls to consider well-paying careers in non-traditional fields that will broaden their career options and earning potential. Too many of our girls choose fields like cosmetology, where the average hourly wage is $8.49, or child care, which pays about $7.43 an hour, as opposed to becoming plumbers, electricians or mechanical drafters, who earn about $20 per hour.

If we want our girls to flourish and grow into self-sufficient women, then we must knock down barriers to their success in the classroom whether they choose to work in technology, the trades, or to pursue professional endeavors. On this, the 30th anniversary of Title IX, we should celebrate how far we’ve come, but we must also be mindful of the distance we still need to travel to ensure optimal educational and vocational opportunities for all young women.