Woman; 117; Sex Bias in Education, Part 1
A. With. An in-depth exploration of the world the woman with help. Good evening and welcome to woman the president's commission on the status of women. The Carnegie Commission on higher education. The National Organization for Women and groups of women from Kalamazoo Austin Princeton and New York City
have all week simply focus their attention on tonight's topic. Tonight is the first of two programs we will be doing on sex bias in education. My guests are Judy wending. Judy is the former president of New York now and coordinator of national now women and sports task force. She's a former teacher. She's currently a feminist psycho therapist at New York City college and in private practice. Also with us it's Phyllis Al Roy. Phyllis is a member of women on words and images a feminist consulting firm in Princeton New Jersey. She's also a co-author of Dick and Jane as victims. Welcome to both of you. Thank you. What is sex bias today. I would probably define it as providing different opportunities and having different expectations for a child based on the fact that the child is either male or female rather than on the individual capabilities of the child. New York now recently published a report on sex bias in the New York City public schools.
Can you tell us how that came about. There was a group of concerned parents for the most part and some teachers who really wanted to put into a book some of the kinds of things that they had found in all the different areas of school so that other people would. Begin to look for the kinds of discrimination that happened in their own schools. And it also offer some suggestions in the report as to some kind of actions that you can take to change the situation in the schools. So it was an attempt to provide people with information and suggestions as to how they could change the situation for their own children and make it better. How did it come about exactly I mean someone was suddenly concerned about sex bias did it come from parents. I think several parents were concerned about the sex bias in the schools and the fact that their girls for the most part were not having equal educational opportunities. And so they were going to amazed at how much they found when they started really looking into the school system. And they wanted other people to become aware of the kinds of things they had found to and not to have to go through the
same discovery process that they had. I say Phyllis you're a member of the Princeton group women on words and images. Can you tell us how that started. It started with the concern of one mother who saw her child's text readers and was so appalled at what she saw that she said that's who wants to join me let's form a task force and look for a reading series that we can recommend to our schools. Surely there must be something better than this. When we looked in the day when we looked at 16 different series 16 different publishers series and I'm afraid there was nothing to it that could be recommended and our findings are documented to contain his victims. That is what Dick and Jane it's victim. Yes it started out as a positive. Solution to the problem. Let's get something better for our children who are some of the people that are concerned about this now I mention the president's commission and some of you know by other groups around the country. Yes. They're practically every now chapter and there are over 600 now chapters in the country has an education committee which is seriously looking into education in their
own school systems. But beyond that there are parents all over the country there are teachers and there are students and there are now administrators and concerned citizens and it concerns absolutely everyone because we're talking about education from preschool through graduate level schools where there is discrimination against women in employment in programs in curriculum in attitudes always areas. So each of us is in some way affected or know someone who is affected. And so everybody is really concerned with that it's a part of our daily lives and it's where our money is spent. That's true too. I'd like to talk a little bit about the textbooks and what you found out. For instance you were very upset over the illustrations can you tell us some of the things you found out like how were girls pictured in the illustrations. Girls are pictured as very passive and very active and very on involved in what they're doing. They're rarely shown together and when they are shown together they're engaged in parallel play whereas boys when they're shown together play together
cooperate and do things together. Boys are involved with learning things with with gaining skills and with with having initiative and displaying initiative and. They're just really opposite sides of the coin. One of the things you mentioned before the program was the expression on children's faces in these books there's a difference already much so boys are smiling and alive and really involved in what they're doing whereas girls are are so passive There are many many pictures of girls just sitting there not knowing what to do and and just absolutely vacant faced and so on involved and not even pretending to do anything to themselves. Another thing that's mentioned in Dick and Jane it's victims it's role rehearsal. Talk about that for a minute but define it for audience. Yes role reversal is the attempt of children to master. Their environment they practiced doing what they see mothers and fathers and teachers doing. Boys when they do this learn skills are involved in a wide area geographically
and they really are involved in learning skills like look in television cameras and they fly planes and. Paint Houses with their fathers and all sorts of things. But when girls are engaged in rehearsal they're doing domestic chores they're hanging up laundry and vacuuming the floor and things of that nature and what does this tell that the child. Well I think it really says something about the at what's expected of girls I think a lot of the messages in readers are are really telling girls what they are expected to do. We don't expect very much from girls. And that's what we're saying to them. How are adults like mothers and fathers picture mothers and fathers are pictured. Absolutely in opposite ways. All of the positive side of parenthood goes to the males fathers are supportive they they they have fun with their children they play with them they give them love and attention and they they. What
are involved in teaching them skills and taking them on outings. But mothers are shown as as dredges they sit and service everyone's needs and they're just perfect servants. They're not ever involved with their own. Interests they have no interest so you never see a mother going to even a PTA meeting or to the wire to play bridge or or even hiring a babysitter to sense at home. Very unreal. What about occupations. Is there a discrepancy there all very much so there's a wide discrepancy. Females are shown in 25 different occupations and they also in about 150. Can you name some of the female. Yes I think it was very interesting to me that the many About a third of the female occupations are concerned with with household concerns for example governess cook maid babysitter. Their concern with the domestic sphere is mother listed as an occupation. Yes it is. It's fallen. Yes. What are some of the others outside of the domestic sphere.
Cook and I said Cook didn't I think I remember Princess. Oh yes a princess and a queen and a witch. That's quite a. That's quite. A model for young girl don't you think. I think I think I can imagine going to an employment agency. Thank you. How do I like to be a princess. Yes today what about curriculum in general curriculum and in general throughout all the levels again and. Built around certain expectations such as the fact that boys will take more math and science courses and the girls need to have home economics and typing and more general kinds of skills and more English and languages and sometimes the way courses are scheduled is such that chemistry will be at the same time that it's offered and the girls will be routed into Taipei and one of the boys will be right in the chemistry that's one of the examples. Another example is that most of the audiovisual materials movies and slides etc. are sexist in the nature of the woman totally
or they have women only in helping kinds of roles such as a major scientist in a film will be a man and maybe his assistant will be a woman. Maybe it will be another man there will be a woman in the movie. And. The way the high schools are designed and the way that students are encouraged to take courses whether increases take a general course or an academic course is frequently there's a biased attitude in encouraging courses to take one or the other. And if you're black Puerto Rican poor or if you're in any kind of and any kind of deprived area so cold you would be probably encouraged to take a technical course vocational course or a general course rather than to take an academic course because people expect you not to go on beyond high school and I consider you lucky if you finish high school. And this is an expectation that works against students and against encouraging students to strive to be whatever they can be.
Is there anything to the titling of courses that causes. Yes it was a lot of courses our time I don't like marriage in the family which deal solely with marriage and family as though all of us were going to be married and have a family. And it does not deal with alternative lifestyles it doesn't deal with the fact that a large number of us will not marry or even if we marry will live a considerable amount of our time alone. Are we in a household that does not fit the traditional family pattern. And so it doesn't really equip students for. Leading different kinds of lifestyles and choosing for themselves and that's just one example. Is this really the fault of the schools I mean schools are really reflecting society's wants. Well it depends on what you mean by society's wants and who determines society's wants there is a standard oh Supposedly there are standards that society wants everyone to be married and have a family. However we find that the divorce rates are going up to now it's three out of every five marriages end in divorce. So even if society wants everyone to be
married and have a family it would seem that individuals still do whatever they choose to do regardless of the norm for society. And so maybe we're not preparing people. Realistically if we just assume that they will fit into this fairytale pattern that we have in books and movies and on television it doesn't allow any options for anybody it's presumes that everyone's going to leave the same lifestyle. Right and that's what's wrong with it. But one thing that's wrong with with the readers that we don't have options is that if you're a boy you are active and you achieve and you do this and if you're a girl you're passive and you get rescued by boys and the boys always told them the girl is always shorter and it's really a very rigid pattern that we're asking our children to fit into. And it starts with the readers. And what we found in Dick and Jane is victims and the readers are that is absolutely true of all instructional material throughout the whole school system even up into counseling in the count right.
Can we talk about counseling now. First I want to know what happens to that. As the grades get progressively higher for instance you know fourth grade as opposed to ninth grade right. Even the earlier readers focus on the family situation and it's more or less equally not equally divided but there are certainly girls are present. By the time you get to fourth grade there are more stories about the outside world and girls really virtually disappear from the readers. They become nonexistent just as they do in the High School cover of government. Why is my question why. You know the people who write the books primarily write from their own view of history and women and the kinds of things that people need to know and for the most part the higher level textbooks are written by males who are scholars. And I think are really they have never had a history and women's women in history they've never had a background in the women's rights movement women in the labor movement etc. These things are starting to come now from mostly from feminist but from women who are actively putting this material together and I think in the future this material is
going to be in textbooks because people are demanding that we not ignore the fact that 50 percent 51 percent of us haven't been in our textbooks. So we are here and we're doing active things and there is a lot of value to what we're doing. What can a parent do. It's beginning in the home. A parent can best discuss the book with her with her children. Just pick up one of his trials. Pick up any book and just take a look at it and talk to the child about it and talk to the child's teacher. And if it's a mother talk to your husband about it and let him know when you get to the. Did you do that if you don't think you know when children are very concerned with the unfairness of the books. They just think it's not fair and how can it be. It's just not right about today. What can teachers do I mean is their self a mentor material avail there's a lot of supplementary material available now in the way of films in the way of science in the way of oh supplementary books work books and the teacher can work with what she or
he has in the classroom. Ask students is this true. You know for how you see life. What are some of the ways that we might look at it. What do you think is left out here what are other things that we need to add here. Here's some material that I found here some material that other people have found that has been left out. And also ask stimulating questions can provide opportunities for students to do reports on things that are not included in textbooks. Discuss the values that are presented in books. Discuss the examples that are used and cetera because if we're really going to have education to help people become creative productive thinking people then we're going to start in the school system so that students have a chance to question the things presented in textbooks apply to real life see what their own values would be in regard to it and come up with their own ideas and solutions as we've developed a checklist that would be very handy for this purpose is essentially the check.
Let's ask the question how many girls are in stories how many boys how many pictures are there are boys and how many pictures are other girls. And what about the character traits how many times our girl who is shown is showing the initiative and being strong and rescuer who is who is. And it really becomes very clear it's. Split right down the middle which is very useful especially if you have the elementary grades. Right. You know what about. Now you want to talk about counseling. Yes. And counseling frequently the assumption is made that all girls will grow up and fall in love and get married and be mothers. And we don't think about the fact that nine out of 10 of us as women are going to work for a substantial period of our lives and seven out of the nine of us will have to. So it is not necessarily a luxury. I mean we are not going to be taken care off in the sense that all of us are going to be in these homes forever where we have thanks providing for us and we do the job of mother and wife and thats all. And we are finding more and more that women need careers
all throughout their lives and through various periods of their lives and we have children younger and the children leave the home and then we have to prepare and someone. So in many ways the girls have been discouraged by testing materials by the way the materials that are presented to them to make choices by the fact that people do not encourage them to aspire to professions such as medical school which will require them to go to school for a long period of time. Theyre discouraged from doing things such as becoming an electrical repair person becoming a plumber etc. and theyre very highly discouraged a lot of times from trying to go to professional school because they might want to get married have children on the way kind of thing. Theyre not just working for pin money right and theyre not just we were paying money but nobody seems to realize the fact that not only do boys have to have careers but girls also are going to need careers and want careers and that more and more men are starting to take. More responsibility
with child care and nurturing because people are beginning to see that since being a mother is such an important job that actually if you have two parents that are doing it then you have much healthier children and a much healthier situation for both adults doing it. So as men take on more and more of those responsibilities and share with that women are also sharing with financial responsibilities and having some kind of productive life of their own as well as marriage or you know they're not necessarily married. And more of us are choosing to live some kind of alternate lifestyle which does not necessarily include marriage per se or families per se. So what about the testing process that the testing process. The preference tests are very biased in the kinds of questions that they ask. And the results are very biased in that they will be different scales if we all take the same test and their boy skills and girl scales on interest if we have a boy or girl score high in interest in medical
professions the boy has to choose from surgeon that's an area in psychiatry as a general practitioner dentist. The girl has to choose from the same school nurse nurse nurses a dental assistant veterinarians assistant and general practitioner or pediatrician. And it's interesting that with the same school worse they will be presented with a totally different set of occupations one of which requires more schooling which will lead to higher income into a more responsible job and a better profession than the other. So we are trying to have the test changed so that there will be one test for all students. And the same scale will be used so that regardless of your sex when you have high interest scores in those areas you have the whole range of professions and or other jobs offered to you to choose from. And we are also trying to encourage guidance counselors to encourage young women to higher
aspirations because we mostly choose our jobs our future jobs from the people we see around us and the jobs that we know about because we can't possibly know about 77000 jobs so we become the things that we have seen around us. And since girls for the most part don't know women then this And I don't know women technicians. We have to have guidance counselors who will encourage young women to investigate these fields and go into them who will bring in the few women then this technicians is centrist to talk to young women and talk about their fields and who will recruit women for these areas and encourage them to aspire higher than they might if they just looked around them and so what other people would do is this changing at all or is it a fairly stable situation is changing a lot and it's changing fantastically in New York City this year. The percentage of women in law schools in the entering class was almost 50 percent. Five years ago there were less than 15 percent women in law schools.
Do you see evidence of changes in your children school Phyllis. I find it's very very slow much slower than I I would wish for but what I did want to say was that I think that really what we what we all want is more options of more for a person to do any non-green already motherhood and oh no not at all not at all nor are we knocking talk about her choices. I'm talking about choices and giving everyone options and everyone should be able to choose the options that they that's best suited for them rather than what's appropriate for their sex and I think that's really what it's about. We're talking about is a benefit to society also doesn't make it so that we can begin to really utilize the capabilities of everyone and not deny them a chance to contribute because that area is not one that we think women should be in more than we and should be. So if we have male nurses quote We never talk about female nurses but if we have men who wish to be nurses and I want to contribute in that way then we can have that. One of the things that Dick and Jane points out is the inequities in biographies. Oh yes there are six times more male biographies than female biographies.
It's a very very poor selection. Very often in the illustrations of these biographies. Although the biography is about a woman the picture features than that. It's as though the male is the star again. Today there's a bill called Title 9. Right. And you feel very strongly that parents should know about that. Yes Todd online is actually called the Federal education amendment of 1972. What it basically says is that no school which receives any federal funds can discriminate in any way on the basis of six. This includes program school admissions school funding use of facilities attitudes whatever. And almost every school in the country violates this in some way. What we would like for parents to realize and for teachers and students to know is that we have a law. That actually brings to the fore the fact that each of us
has the power to make some changes and to demand that some changes be made to really provide equal opportunities for students regardless of sex. You can use it for textbooks you can use it for textbooks you can use it for athletics and sports which is in violation everywhere because boys receive voice programs receive approximately 10 times more than girls programs do across the board in athletics across the country. You can use it for any kind of program you can use it for the fact that girls will be required to take home an economics and not allowed to take shop and boys cannot take home economics but have to take shop. These are all violations. What you can do is find out what kinds of discrimination examples exist in your school system. Present this to your school board and say look there is a federal law and we probably have a state will find out about that too if you have a State Human Rights Amendment which also says the same thing. These laws you are in violation of. We would like to work together with you to make recommendations for the change that you can make to really provide equal opportunity and
we're sure you really want to do that. Now if you would like to work with us to do this and there are a large number of concerned students parents and teachers who really want to back this would be happy to work with you and help you make it better. If you do not see fit to work with us we do have a law and we can go to Department of Health Education and Welfare Office of Civil Rights and file a suit against the school system which will then withhold all of your federal funds from the school. We don't want to have to do this but we do want you to know that we consider the problem of such serious import. That we will not. Let it remain as it is because we really want over students to have equal opportunities. Is there a law in New Jersey. Yes we do have a law in New Jersey that makes it illegal to deny anybody any benefit that the school system offers on the basis of sex. Judy I know you wanted to get into physical education because you are on the now taskforce. Right.
Okay. In the area of sports is probably one of the biggest masculine holdouts. For superiority at the moment and probably all you can name many many male athletes but very few female athletes. This comes probably from the attitude that women should not really want to be in sports should not want to be quote competitive and should not want to develop bulging muscles. Those of you have seen Billie Jean King on television and know with the bulging muscles as women develop them are not all that attractive unless you go out for weightlifting which very few men or women do. And while we would like to do is to encourage everyone to start thinking about the fact that sports is a way of developing our own body so that we can make them functional and use them well so that we can enjoy the use of them. And that school program should be for the benefit to provide students with the development of their body and enjoyment of using their body and the skills to use their body all throughout school and then for later life and not to have the school programs be a way of providing for a select
few. A chance to go on to professional athletics or a chance to have stardom in the community are a chance for the community to have a team that they can then have an ego. Contest around. Or for gate receipts because of how much money it brings in an average you want to develop the whole person. But a lot of the MEMA vied for all my students are more sports opportunities. On all ability levels you want co-educational classes necessary I think physical education itself can be educational because we're talking about teaching skills and providing you operate in individual opportunities for students to develop at their own pace. What do you say to the person who says yeah but boys are stronger. It's not really relevant in physical education class because the purpose of it is to provide each student with a chance to compete at their own ability level. And it could be based on ability level at this point in time in their school asked to guess what ICs it might be true of a few sports that at the moment yes boys have much greater
skills and much greater strength which we may see change when we really provide full programs for girls. But then what we could do is we can provide equal programs with equal use of funding equal facilities equal coaching with women coaches also. And. As women develop skills provide opportunities to integrate on an ability level. Phyllis we have about 30 seconds and there were a couple of things that she wanted to mention to people that they could send poor to provide them with her. Yes we have Dick and Jane as victims and Little Miss Muffet fights back available in Princeton. You won't do which is a study of high school government books and report on sex bias in public schools available from New York now. Judy did you have some. Yes there is sexism in education report that comes out of the Emma Willard task force in Minneapolis Minnesota. And you can get it from them for three dollars and fifty cents from post office box one for Judy I'm sorry we're out
- Episode Number
- Sex Bias in Education, Part 1
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- This episode features a conversation with Judy Wenning and Phyllis AlRoy. Wenning is the former President of NY N.O.W and Coordinator of National NOW Women and Sports Task Force. She is a former teacher and is currently a feminist therapist at NY City College and in private practice. AlRoy is a member of "Women on Words and Images," a feminist consulting firm in Princeton, New Jersey, and is the co-author of "Dick and Jane As Victims."
- Woman is a talk show featuring in-depth conversations exploring issues affecting the lives of women.
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Director: George, Will
Guest: Wenning, Judy
Guest: AlRoy, Phyllis
Host: Elkin, Sandra
Producer: Elkin, Sandra
Producing Organization: WNED
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Identifier: WNED 04294 (WNED-TV)
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- Chicago: “Woman; 117; Sex Bias in Education, Part 1,” 1974-02-21, WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 20, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_81-37hqc39r.
- MLA: “Woman; 117; Sex Bias in Education, Part 1.” 1974-02-21. WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 20, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_81-37hqc39r>.
- APA: Woman; 117; Sex Bias in Education, Part 1. Boston, MA: WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_81-37hqc39r