It’s called the “paper ceiling” –– the barriers for skilled job seekers who lack a bachelor’s degree. Amid the brouhaha in recent years over admissions scams and student debt, a new line of attack is emerging against higher education. This one is being described as an ontological threat in that it questions the existence and value of college itself, while accusing the system of perpetuating multiple forms of inequity. Of course, higher education often has found itself a political football in the past. What makes this time different is its critique of qualities universities typically have seen as their strength.
Everyone knows it’s been a tough few years for higher education. Even before the pandemic, colleges and universities were seeing public opinion souring over rising costs, political correctness, and faculty misbehavior –– causing more than a few students and their families to start doubting the value of degree. With enrollments dropping during the “great disruption” at a pace not seen for half a century, concurrent changes in the American workplace have rendered college degrees unnecessary for a growing number of high wage jobs. Yet many employers require four-year credentials anyway, in what some observers see as an antiquated habit and a cover for discrimination.
The numbers are deceptively simple – that 75% of new jobs insist on a bachelor’s degree, while only 40% of potential applicants have one. According the advocacy group Opportunity@Work, employers mistakenly equate college completion with work aptitude, while disregarding self-acquired knowledge or non-academic experience. The group asserts that the nation’s undervalued workforce “has developed valuable skills through community college, certificate programs, military service, or on-the-job learning, rather than through a bachelors degree. Workers with experience, skills, and diverse perspectives are held back by silent barrier.” As a consequence, over 50% of the American skilled workforce has been under employed and underpaid. More concerning still is that such discrimination is unevenly distributed. Within a 70-million worker cohort of what are termed STARs (Skilled Through Alternative Routes) employees, one finds 61% of Black workers, 55% of Hispanic/Latinos, and 61 of veterans.
The pandemic years have been rough on college students everywhere, with record levels of academic stress and losses in student learning. While occurring throughout higher education, these problems haven’t affected all groups the same way. Students from privileged backgrounds have fared better than the under-resourced, with disparities in network access, income, and external responsibilities exacerbating inequities. As I saw these dynamics play out in the large undergraduate general education courses I teach, I began wondering if instructional methods might be partly to blame and if changes might improve matters going forward. Working with UC Irvine’s Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI) helped me to rethink my own teaching by searching out ways that I unconsciously had been putting up roadblocks
Usually when educators speak of “inclusion” they are thinking of course content and ways to incorporate diverse perspectives or voices previously excluded. While this approach remains a central tenant of inclusive teaching, a deeper look at the issue can reveal biases or barriers built into the teaching of even the most progressive educators. Practices of exclusion can be the result of habits or structures that have become so routinized in instruction that they seem natural or neutral approaches. Costly books, rigid deadlines, and high-stakes exams are among practices that privilege students with money, time flexibility, and testing skills, for example.
Faculty attitudes also can get in the way of inclusion. This often is manifest in principles of “rigor” intended to elevate worthy over unworthy students. Such attitudes create a scarcity mentality toward success rather than one that makes high achievement possible for all students. Decades of educational research has shown the deleterious effects of such practices in conflating grades with knowledge acquisition. The grade pressure that frequently drives “rigor” has been shown to affect some students more than others, while creating an atmosphere of anxiety and an emphasis on types of learning easily that can be easily tested. Not only does this create learning inequities, but it also tends to discourage collaboration, questioning, and diverse opinion. Continue reading “Inclusive Pedagogy”
Tucked away in a document on reducing sexual assault at school – part of an unprecedented effort by the Obama administration to address such abuse – the Department of Education included a historic guideline extending federal civil rights protections to transgender students on Tuesday.
Title IX – the civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities – also bars discrimination on the basis of gender identity, announced the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, marking a major victory in the fight to codify LGBT protections into federal law.
“Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation,” reads the 46-page document. “Similarly, the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the parties does not change a school’s obligations. Indeed, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth report high rates of sexual harassment and sexual violence. A school should investigate and resolve allegations of sexual violence regarding LGBT students using the same procedures and standards that it uses in all complaints involving sexual violence.”
Though aimed at clarifying how Title IX relates to sexual violence, the guidance carries far broader implications. LGBT advocates note that transgender students will not just be explicitly protected from physical or sexual abuse under Title IX, but from all forms of discrimination in education.
“It certainly would be our view that transgender students should be given the ability to participate in sex segregated activities, like sports teams, consistent with their gender identity,” said Ian Thompson, legislative representative at the American Civil Liberties Union, to msnbc. “Failure on part of the school to allow that would be discrimination against that student.” Continue reading “Obama moves on gender identity”
Not only does the gender wage gap have real staying power, but it’s alive and kicking in all 50 states.
As reported in Huffington Post, “according to a new report released earlier this week by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the gender pay gap — which had significantly narrowed since the 1970s — has slowly plateaued in recent years.
“Compiling data from the Census Bureau, the Department of Education and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, AAUW calculated the median salaries for full-time employment in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In the U.S., women are paid 23 percent less than men on average. Although down from a 2012 figure of 91 percent, Washington, D.C. maintains the smallest wage gap in the U.S., with women earning 90 percent of what their male counterparts do ($66,754 vs. $60,116). Also consistent with last year’s results, Wyoming came in last with women taking home a shocking 64 percent of men’s average earnings ($51,932 vs. $33,152).
“While it remains important to note that geography and local industry have a large influence on differing salaries, there are other major factors that come into play — namely education level, race/ethnicity and age. AAUW analyzed the pay gap by looking at full-time, year-round workers over the age of 15. Beyond comparing salaries of all men to salaries of all women, the report broke down wage imbalances between the sexes along three additional demographics: race/ethnicity, education level and age. Asian-American women had the largest gender wage gap while Hispanic or Latina women’s earnings were most comparable to their male counterparts. Continue reading “50 shades of gender inequity”
If this 5-foot high schooler could create anything, it would be a machine. “The machine would remove the sexist attitudes of boys,” Sophie tells me. Males walk in one end and come out the other free of macho thoughts. She laughs. As Richard Liu writes on MSNBC.com,
“That was after years of crying. Sophie had a tough childhood. She was the daughter that her parents gave away. Now the 14-year-old fights for gender equality, recently helping a friend with a 32-year-old man who was making advances.
“Sophie is part of Plan International’s “Because I am a Girl” campaign to empower and educate girls about their equal rights to education, health care, and violence-free environments. One of the campaign’s lessons is that the solution is not only in Sophie’s or other girls’ hands. Men and boys have a crucial leadership role in the fight for gender equality. One half of it. A half that is widely untapped.
“Noah, a high school graduate, is one exception. “I am part of society,” he says. “If I change, I change society.” Noah started a group for high school guys to speak out against gender violence. He believes the problem and solution starts with him – that stopping gender violence means stopping boys and men.
“Understanding gender inequality also means understanding political and economic power dynamics that favor men. Men control 81% of Congress. Men hold 95% of Fortune 500 CEO titles. Men occupy 70% of state judge seats. It’s men and boys (soon to be men) in the driver’s seat. It’s men who are obligated to help create change. This isn’t a gender war. Gender equality is not about women fighting men, about women taking from men, or men losing parts of themselves. When men speak out against gender inequality brought on by disadvantageous economic, cultural or legal contexts, it’s a declaration that equality must be the result of a joint – not antagonistic – leadership effort. Continue reading “Not just about girls”
The total number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters remains steady on U.S. television for a second year, but is represented more equally between males and females, gay rights group GLAAD said on Friday, according to Voice of America
“There will be 112 LGBT characters in regular or recurring roles on scripted television shows across the United States in 2013-2014, and half are played by women, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said, adding that it indicates networks are making more effort to diversify storylines.
“In 2012, the majority of LGBT characters tracked by the GLAAD report were male.
“Last year saw a record number of LGBT characters across U.S. scripted television, with 31 regularly on the five main primetime networks. GLAAD releases a report annually tracking gender and ethnic diversity on television over the past year and in the coming year. This year has seen a drop in LGBT characters on primetime networks due to the cancelation of shows such as “The New Normal” and “Go On,” with 26 regular LGBT cast members and 20 recurring. On cable television, LGBT characters rose to 42 from last year’s 35, HBO leading the way with 11 characters. LGBT characters featured in leading or recurring roles in new shows this year include Fox police comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” NBC sitcom “Sean Saves the World” and CBS thriller “Under the Dome.”
“ABC and FOX were the only primetime networks to increase the percentage of LGBT roles in shows, and NBC came in last among the five primetime broadcast networks. While last year there were no regular transgender roles on primetime broadcast shows, “Glee” upgraded transgender character Unique to regular this year.”
What is the proportion of female to male researchers in Europe, and how is this proportion evolving over time? In which scientific fields are women better represented? Do the career paths of female and male researchers follow similar patterns? Are statistics on women in science comparable across Europe? How many women occupy senior positions in scientific research in Europe?
Published every three years since 2003, She Figures replies to these questions. She Figures ” presents human resource statistics and indicators in the research and technological development (RTD) sector and on gender equality in science. The report is recommended reading for all policymakers, researchers and their employers, citizens with a vision of a participative, competitive and innovative Europe.
“The latest update, She Figures 2012 ( 4.32MB), shows that despite progress, gender inequalities in science tend to persist. For example, while 59 % of EU graduate students in 2010 were female, only 20 % of EU senior academicians were women. The publication also gives an overview of the scientific fields where women are better or less represented, and compares the research workforce in different economic sectors (e.g. higher education, government, and business sectors).
“The She Figures 2012 booklet has been published in March 2013 and uploaded on this website. All She Figures volumes, in addition to other relevant documents, are available through the e-Library”