This Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, a gender equality in education effort from the 1970s. At an event at the Center for American Progress, Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius acknowledged the country still has a long way to go before it achieves true gender parity.
Sebelius spoke about the huge progress achieved in 40 years toward a more balanced education system, particularly in the world of sports. But she also noted that women still face some discrimination, both in how they are currently treated at schools, and how they may be de-prioritized because of underlying sexism:
We know that women still get fewer opportunities to play sports in high school and college, fewer scholarship dollars, and often settle for very inferior facilities and equipment. And especially in challenging times, we need to make sure budget cutbacks don’t mean rolling back the equality that’s been achieved for women. But as we acknowledge the challenges ahead, we need to celebrate how far we’ve come.
Women are still lagging behind educationally in some areas, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM programs). Currently, women hold far fewer STEM degrees — only 17.9 percent of computer science degrees go to women — and are only 24 percent of the STEM workforce.
And Sebelius is right that women’s programs are targeted in budget cuts. Since women tend to be marginalized and under-represented in politics, programs that benefit women are too often the first on the chopping block. Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget, for example, slashes education, nutrition, and health care assistance for women.