Title IX 50th Anniversary Statement
On this 50th Anniversary of Title IX, the ASEE Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (CDEI) affirms the enduring principle of gender equity and celebrates the many achievements of that landmark legislation, particularly in creating increased access for women in STEM fields. At the same time, we know that making gender equity a reality in engineering education requires countless small but significant actions in every academic institution. Increasingly, many of us see a need to turn our focus to ensuring our students’ basic right to bodily autonomy. Without this right, the promise of Title IX cannot be fully realized in the lives of our students.
When transgender and nonbinary students in engineering cannot readily and safely access an appropriate restroom, there is not gender equity in engineering education. When the right to consent to sexual activity on one’s own terms is disrespected, resulting in sexual harassment, rape, or dating violence, there is not gender equity in engineering education. When individuals fail to report acts of discrimination and hostile climate based on gender, gender identity or expression, we do not have gender equity in engineering education. When our processes for seeking redress of gender inequity are unduly burdensome or broken, survivors’ access to engineering education is inequitable. When our gender equity efforts do not consider intersections of sexism with racism, ableism, colonialism, classism, xenophobia, homophobia, and other forms of oppression, we cannot realize gender equity. When engineering students are prohibited or inhibited from preventing or ending unwanted pregnancies, their education is not equal. When engineering students do not have adequate support for balancing pregnancy, childbirth, adoption, and/or parenting with pursuit of their education, their education is not equal. When we pretend that all of these issues exist outside of, or separate from, engineering, we ensure the durability of inequity in engineering education.
The ASEE CDEI calls on ASEE members to attend to small but significant acts that make gender equity a reality on our campuses and in our students’ lives.
Statement written by Dr. Donna Riley