Leveling the Playing Field of Gender Equity

November 13, 2012

Leveling the Playing Field of Gender Equity

When I was in high school, my gym teacher, Mrs. Maloney, instructed me to “referee” basketball during our class so that should give you little insight into my athletic prowess…and my vertical reach. Just the same, I’ve always been a huge fan of Title IX, which turns 40 this year. Known primarily for leveling the “playing field” in athletics, Title IX has delivered a Claressa Shield’s style punch of gender equity in many other ways, too.

Claressa, by the way, is the 17 year-old 2012 Olympic Women’s Boxing gold medalist. She’s from Flint, Michigan, where poverty and community breakdown have taken a tremendous toll on many young people, including her brother who’s currently in jail. While preparing to compete again in Rio, she’s on track to graduate high school next spring. Despite all her travels, she’s an honors student who maintains a B or better average – and wants to be a photojournalist. That’s certainly Title IX in action.

Thanks to the good people at the Southern Poverty Law Center who publish Teaching Tolerance, I was able to read about the myriad ways in which Title IX has made the world a far better place for all, thanks in part to this historical policy declaration in 1972:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity received federal financial assistance.

Like most 40 year-olds, Title IX deserves lots of credit and extra encouragement to keep fighting the good fight. So to celebrate it, here are IX outstanding ways it’s bringing us closer to gender equity:

I. Colleges and universities must provide equal consideration to both sexes in admissions and financial aid.

II. Schools must treat male and female students equally in career and technical education – including encouraging girls and women into non-traditional careers.

III. Schools can no longer force pregnant students from classes or school-sponsored activities.

IV. Teachers and administrators at the primary, secondary and college levels are protected against sex discrimination in hiring, promotion and salary considerations.

V. Single-sex programs must not perpetuate stereotypes about girls’ interests or abilities.

VI. Girls and women must be allowed and encouraged to take upper-level math and science courses.

VII. Students receive protection against sexual harassment from teachers, staff or other students.

VIII. Standardized tests questions must be designed free of gender bias.

IX. Both genders must have equal access to computers and technology.

If you’re like me, you’re feeling pretty good about this list. I’m also pleased to learn that more than half of medical and law students today are women. And it gave me a new perspective to answer my ten year-old son who asked me recently “When did men and women decide they wanted to be equal?” Of course, we’re not fully there yet, but in some way I feel like I can answer, “Well, 1972 was a pretty important year.”

Skewed Coverage Helped Skewer Health Care Reform

June 22, 2012

As we arrive at the day of reckoning for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the U.S. Supreme Court, this excellent media analysis from the Pew Center for People and the Press reveals how media coverage of the issue contributed to public confusion and increasing opposition.

While many of us noted the failure of the President and the advocacy community to continue to “sell” or at least explain the virtues of the ACA, this report documents a number of other key media coverage issues that contributed:

  • Heavy coverage of Tea Party town meetings where the ACA was routinely bashed.
  • The excess of coverage focused on the politics of the issue and minimal attention paid to the merits of the legislation.
  • The lack of coverage of the abysmal state of health care, which had been heavily covered leading up to Obama’s election.
  • The 2:1 use of ACA opponents’ terminology used in media reporting.
  • The continuing debate over contraceptive coverage.

It is never too late to start telling a good story, even if it is in reaction to a bad Supreme Court decision that kills the program. In fact, in recent days there has been more reporting on the positive impact of the program on health care access for children 26 or younger. However, we also need to tout the impact that the ACA would have on the 49 million people who rely on Medicare, many of them young disabled people and our parents and grandparents, as well as those who depend on free health care coverage, such as the children of low income families. In addition to highlighting the benefits, we need to remind people of the horror stories about people having their coverage cancelled or being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, among others.

We’ve moved!

January 3, 2011

Thank you for your interest in Douglas Gould’s Bad Word Blog. We’ve moved our blog – please update your bookmarks and visit us at http://www.douglasgould.com/blog for more bad words and commentary on communications issues important to nonprofit organizations and public interest groups.