- A movement in favor of single-sex trade classes like auto shop or construction is attracting female students, but there’s concern those efforts may be violating Title IX, according to The Hechinger Report.
- That hasn’t stopped groups like the Berkeley, Calif.-based Girls Garage, which teaches girls ages 9-17 skills such as welding — and since the group doesn't receive federal funding, it’s not held accountable to Title IX, a federal law that makes it illegal to discriminate based on gender in any “federally funded education program or activity.”
- With few women holding jobs in fields like construction or making up just 2% of auto workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there may be a need to train young women in these roles.
Single-sex public schools have long been held to violate Title IX. Still, while the law forced equality for genders in public schools, it hasn’t immediately brought parity into the workforce. Women were paid just 80% of what men earned as of 2016 and aren’t expected to reach equal pay until 2119, according to the American Association of University Women. Women are also not as represented in men in certain jobs, particularly those that involve heavy labor — whether that’s the .7% of women who make up stonemasons in the U.S. or the .2% who are crane operators, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Could separating boys and girls into single-sex (SS) classes make boys feel more comfortable in a home economics class or girls more comfortable in a computer science class — and, more crucially, help them perform better? A 2014 meta-analysis said no.
“The controlled studies showed no substantial advantages of SS schooling for either girls or boys, across an array of academic outcomes,” wrote researchers from Whitman College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Additionally, the study’s authors didn’t find that single-sex environments had an impact on a girls' future plans after they left school, as well.
“Girls in SS schooling showed only trivial differences from girls in coed schooling for the outcomes of mathematics performance, mathematics attitudes, and science performance.” the authors wrote. “Moreover, girls’ educational aspirations were not higher when they were in SS schooling, nor was their self-concept more positive under conditions of SS schooling.”
Administrators must be mindful that they’re not only providing equal opportunities to both female and male students, but encouraging them, as well. But separating them into different classes may not only run educators afoul of Title XI, but also not help them academically.