Universities should not reward gender

Sam Stroud

Staff Writer

Editors Note: The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Tropolitan or its staff members. Address responses and critiques to opinion@tropnews.com

Last week, the L.A. Times reported that the U.S. Department of Education opened more than two dozen different investigations around gender discrimination in universities such as Rice and Yale. The basis of these investigations comes from studies that show gender inequality in scholarship offers. One such survey was recently released by the nonprofit organization Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE). The survey points out that most single gender scholarships are granted to women. 

The study examined more than 200 colleges across the United States and found that the total number of single gender scholarships vastly favored women over men. In our state of Alabama alone, there are 87 women-only scholarships compared to only three for men. Here at Troy, there are five scholarships only for women and one scholarship only for men. Auburn University has one of the most egregious gender scholarship gaps in the entire country. There, women are offered 67 scholarships compared to a measly one for men. 

Title IX, a federal law that applies to any school that receives federal money, makes discrimination based on sex in education programs illegal. Single gender scholarships are permitted under this rule if the “overall effect” of scholarships is equitable. In other words, the scholarships are legal if the opportunities offered to one gender are equal to the other. This recent study from SAVE shows that the overall effect of these gender-specific scholarships is not equitable. Therefore, the universities offering these scholarships in such lopsided proportions should be investigated, as they are quite possibly violating title IX rules. 

The reason for these possible violations isn’t the fact that universities offer only women or only men scholarships. Each individual scholarship on its own is and should be respected and uncontested. The problem is when the disproportionate numbers offered to women over men is taken into account. At Troy for instance, if the university offered five scholarships that were only to women and five that were only to men, that would have an overall equitable effect since both genders would be given the same number of exclusive opportunities. Instead, women are given a larger amount more than men, and thus the effect is not equitable. 

Now, if there are more men receiving gender neutral scholarships, that might change the balance enough for the existence of such a gender specific scholarship gap. However, I was unable to find specific numbers of distribution of general scholarships based on gender. I did find that more women attend and graduate college compared to their male counterparts. Women make up roughly 57% of college students and earn more bachelors and doctoral degrees annually than men. 

I think that men should have at least an equal amount of gender specific scholarships. 

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