Future of the University (Required Blog Post #5)

Title IX is a landmark federal civil right in the United States that prohibits sex discrimination in education. In light of the recent Title IX university investigations, we must evaluate the culture and values pervading our professional and academic institutions. While we are aware of sporadic Title IX-related university investigations, more information is needed to document the individual’s experiences regarding gender and sexual identity in the university setting.

Studies involving gender-bias in the US are often conducted in congruence with analyses of socioeconomic and/or racial discrimination. While it is important to understand how economic, social, cultural, and political trends can be expected to affect the role of gender in academia, more research is needed to understand the specific role of gender based discrimination in academia. The prevalence and full consequences of sexual harassment, and gender bias in academia remain unknown. There are no records of how often such discrimination occurs, or how gender-bias is commonly manifested in academia.

Despite there being ample historical evidence of gender inequality in the United States, discussion of gender bias in present-day academia is often met with skepticism. I believe this is partially due to the inherent complexity of aspects intrinsic in achieving educational equality. When assessing the presence of gender bias in academia, we must consider not only access to higher education, but also how the college experience and post collegiate opportunities differ between men and women. More data must be collected to 1.) Raise awareness that gender-based discrimination persists in present day academic institutions and 2.) Determine the areas where gender parity has been reached, and where women are still marginalized in the university setting.  These data would support the need for a nationally institutionalized “safe space” in universities, where students experiencing sexual or gender-related discrimination can confidentially receive counseling and advice.  Information on the topics listed above can easily be collected by promoting dialogue of individual’s experiences involving gender or racial discrimination. The difficult part is changing the perception of the university setting, an creating an environment that promotes open communication of these sensitive subjects.

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