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Home > 10 Key Areas of Title IX > Learning Environment

Learning Environment

Before Title IX

Popular and harmful gender stereotypes were common and were mirrored in schoolbooks: males were seen as active, inventive, and brave; the few females portrayed were presented as dependent, nurturing, and accommodating. Most women were only portrayed as full-time wives and mothers, or secretaries, nurses, and teachers. In the classroom, boys received the attention from teachers. It was generally believed that math and science were for boys and the arts and literature were for girls.

Since Title IX

Gender stereotypes are changing in society, texts, and classrooms. Equal attention and a supportive learning environment in all subject areas have been recognized as important safeguards to ensure that girls get the most from their education. Girls are encouraged to think of themselves in future careers not only as mothers, nurses, secretaries or teachers, but also as scientists, doctors, lawyers and engineers.

Why Title IX Is Still Critical

At the elementary and secondary school level, single-sex classes are popping up all over the country, and the number has been growing steadily since 2006. That is when the Department of Education revised longstanding Title IX regulations to make it easier for schools to adopt single-sex programs. These regulations are problematic because Title IX and the U.S. Constitution contain safeguards to ensure that single-sex programs in public schools serve only carefully defined and non-discriminatory purposes, do not perpetuate stereotypes about the interests, abilities or learning styles of either gender, and do not result in unequal educational opportunities. The permissive 2006 regulations fly in the face of these safeguards, and by all reports, many of the single-sex programs being adopted by public schools today are based on harmful stereotypes and do not provide equality of opportunity for the excluded gender (or for those who want to continue learning in a coeducational setting).
At the college level, women now make up the slight majority of college students, but they are still more likely to be underrepresented in science and technology fields and in higher-earning occupations that will be critical to the United States’ success in a new global economy.  Despite the fact that girls often earn higher grades than boys, they still face barriers in school settings that inhibit them from expanding into all fields, especially those that are male-dominated.

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Ask the Secretary of Education to Keep Title IX Strong in the Classroom
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