Women And Education Essay, Research Paper
Women and Education: Granting women and men equal access to education in light of the Fourteenth Amendment s pledge of equal protection.
Though taken for granted by many, co-sex educational institutions for higher learning are really just recent occurrences. For the most part, colleges and universities, particularly elite ones, taught either men or women. The reasons for this separation date back to early American history, when a woman s place was seen as in the home. In addition, education was seen, though ridiculously, as having detrimental effects on the woman.
Some of these ludicrous, yet back then scientific beliefs, included that women s brains were smaller than men s were therefore, making them less capable of academic learning. It was also said that if women utilized their brains at the time of their adolescent years, then their reproductive organs would not develop correctly causing possible sterility.
Motherhood has always been seen as a strong link for women to their personal identities. Therefore, the greatest oppression would be to threaten its existence. Having to be a mother is a role traditionally defined by society for women; Most women long for children, even against considerable odds, even when marriage has become a light-minded undertaking, and in direst poverty; women continue to seek to be mothers. This is just one of the avenues that was taken advantage of in order to continue the intolerable oppression of preventing women from educating themselves and enlightening their lives.
Women have had to prove that they are equals of men. They have had to prove that they are as intelligent, competent, brave, and as morally responsible. With this incentive Women s Liberation was born and with it women were secured many rights, among them are: the right to vote, to educate themselves, and to have and spend their own money and properties. It became the battle to overcome the universal idea that women were pervasive and inferior. Educating themselves became one of their most significant means.
On the contrary, what happens when that battle goes so far as to interfere with a man s ability to educate himself? Should the same laws of Equal Protection apply to all individuals the same; even though in reality we are all different? Does the State, as a public sector, have the moral and lawful duty to ensure that each and every unique entity is afforded access to the same opportunity? Absolutely.
The composition that follows will attempt to demonstrate that creating a double standard to protect women really just undermines the objective. It feeds into stereotypes and in turn creates an opportunity for further prejudice and oppression. The barriers to equality can not be overcome with the same ideologies that instituted them. The definition of equality changes among generations and across different lands, but for the focus of this paper it will be the idea of getting women into the workforce, assuring women with political power, breaking down all personality and task differences based on sex, and getting rid of archaic laws designed to force women to stay in their homes against their true wishes. As put by New York State Education Commissioner, Equality is not when a female Einstein gets promoted to assistant professor; equality is when a female schlemiel moves ahead as fast as a male schlemiel.
The Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution is stated as follows:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State Deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.
Better Known as the Equal Protection Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment is the core of Americans civil liberty protections. It has been the basis for the Woman s Liberation Movement as well as most efforts by minority groups in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. This is not to say that the Court always recognized the equal protection clause as the most appropriate avenue for those who believed that the law had treated them unfairly. It was not until recent decades that the Court finally let up with the concept that the equal protection clause was the last resort of constitutional arguments , as stated by Justice Holmes in 1927 (Buck v Bell). The Court s attention to race in the 1940 5 and 1950 s is what prompted this new outlook.
In the application of the Fourteenth Amendment s Equal Protection Clause the Court tests the laws and their objectives, as well as, it classifies the people to which the law has the greatest effect on. There are three different tests administered in accordance with the situation. The highest level of testing is the Strict Scrutiny Test. It is used mainly when there is a case involving racial categorization, also known as suspect classification. This test examines different ideas, such as whether the group effected has been subject to any past discrimination. If the answer to this is yes, then the purpose of the classification must be necessarily related to a compelling state interest. In other words, when a case deals with a fundamental right then the strict scrutiny test is applied; which usually leads to a decision in favor of the plaintiff and against the state.
The second level of testing is the intermediate scrutiny test, or the near strict scrutiny test. It examines government policies on being substantially related to an important government goal. The intermediate scrutiny test is based on a substantive evaluation reviewing the governmental policy s wisdom and intentions. This test is slightly more lenient but still scrupulous. The court generally applies this test with gender-based classifications and those involving illegitimate children.
The third test, and the most applied, is the rational basis test, which only asks whether the classification in question has a reasonable relation to a legitimate state interest. For example, the idea of the income tax; to determine its legitimacy the court would have to, and so they did, decide that it has a constitutional and rational relationship to the needs and functions of the government. When it comes to the rational basis test the government classification usually stands.
The subsequent cases; Mississippi University For Women v Hogan, Regents of the University of California v Bakke, and United States v Virginia, will allow the reader to see the three tier test model put to work. It will also let the reader focus on some of the battles that arose in order to establish co-sex educational higher learning.
When the case of Hogan began, Mississippi had eight universities and sixteen junior colleges. Only the Mississippi University for Women in Columbus was not coeducational. Joe Hogan applied to MUW School for Nursing, only to get denied solely on the fact that he was a man, since otherwise he was academically qualified. He chose to apply to MUW because it was closest to his home. Hogan filed an action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, claiming that MUW s admission policy was a violation of the equal protection clause. The U.S. District Court applied the rational basis test and ruled in favor of the university. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the ruling stating that in it s the state had the heavier burden, which it had not met, in showing that the gender-based classification was substantially related to an important government objective, in other words, the intermediate scrutiny test should have been applied.
The question of this case is whether a state statute that excludes males from enrolling in a state supported professional nursing school violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court found that because the policy blatantly discriminates on the basis of gender, it is thus subjected to scrutiny. It also establishes that just because it discriminates against men instead of women it does not change the fact that discrimination did take place. The court also found that the University had to carry the burden of an exceedingly persuasive justification for the classification the burden is met only by showing at least that the classification serves important governmental objectives and that the discriminatory means employed are substantially related to the achievement of those objectives.
In Hogan the MUW School for Nursing justified their discriminatory single-sex admissions by stating that it compensates for discrimination against women, therefore, constitutes educational affirmative action. Under the intermediate scrutiny test the court held that Mississippi was not convincing in showing that women had ever had any difficulties attaining degrees in nursing. As a matter of fact, in 1970 women were responsible for 94 percent of the baccalaureate degrees in Mississippi, as well as, 98.6 percent in the entire United States. Therefore, there was no evidence of past discrimination, in this field, that needed to be corrected. In addition, records have shown that allowing men to attend MUW would not affect the teaching style, nor would the presence of men in the classroom affect the performance of the female nursing students. All in all, men in coeducational nursing schools do not dominate the classroom.
As a matter of fact, MUW s policy does more harm than good. It fosters the stereotypical concept that nursing is for women only. When evaluating the outcome, the principle causes more of a disadvantage for both women and men. In Hogan, the court held that denying males the right to enroll for credit in its school for Nursing violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In judging policies it is imperative for the court to only tolerate those policies that are beneficial to one group, but yet don t hurt another. Here the policy is detrimental to both.
In Regents University of California v Bakke, the topic of race, not gender comes into play. As a result, the strict scrutiny test is applied, though the same circumstances, outside of gender, exist. In 1968 the University of California at Davis opened as a medical school, and by 1974 began a special admissions program for minorities. Applicants were asked to distinguish their race or nationality on the application itself. Sixteen of the one hundred seats were reserved for Blacks, Chicanos, Asians, and American Indians. The minority applicants, in addition, could compete for the 84 seats outside the program; yet, no whites could compete for any seats inside the special admissions program. In 1973 Allan Bakke sent his application to Davis late and was rejected. Then again in 1974, he applied once more only to be rejected again. Bakke then filed suit on equal protection violations. Bakke s claim was that he was academically more prepared than those admitted through the special program, because of his higher entrance exam scores and curriculum averages.
The Superior Court of Yolo County agreed with Bakke on the argument that the policy was a violation of the 1964 Civil Right s Act. On the other hand, the trial court refused to order Bakke s admission on the basis that he was not able to prove that he would ve been admitted except for the existence for the special program.
Here we have an affirmative action case in which a white male is challenging an admission policy. In many occurrences, especially at the time of this case (1978), race was a legitimate form of classification, unless it was the only determining factor. In Bakke, the majority opinion, delivered by Powell, argued that the policy at the University of California was clearly a form of reverse discrimination, defying both constitutional laws and societal ethics. His argument was that the need to redress past discrimination was not a necessary and compelling state interest. Many categories have been discriminated against in the past, i.e. Irish, Jews, and Italians, therefore giving the argument a weakness. Also, the court argues that race is an immutable situation, one cannot change their race or gender, for that matter. In his dissent, justice Marshall argues that the intermediate test should have been applied, in light of the fact that the school was attempting to take justified compensatory action. In order to do so, someone has to lose. In the end though, Powell s majority opinion doesn t argue that race can t be used as a determining factor, just not the only consideration.
Now in reference back to gender, comes the case of United States v Virginia (1996). This case deals with the Virginia Military Institute, an all-male military college. VMI was founded in 1839 with the mission of producing citizen-soldiers men prepared for leadership in civilian life and in military service. VMI s education style was one based on extreme physical challenges, mental stress, absolute equality of treatment, absence of privacy, minute regulation of behavior, and indoctrination of values. In this case, the court argues that although the constitution states that all individuals should be treated equally, we are not all equal and the equal protection clause is in no way an attempt to make every individual the same. Although, the court does bring into perspective that the state of Virginia has not provided any comparable and adequate institutions for women, leaving them with no options. VMI policy is a clear example of discrimination sanctioned by the state. It assumes that women can not handle attending such an aggressive college, but then at the same time refuses to accommodate those that are willing to try. An apparent denial of human rights.
The court agrees that to admit women into the institution may result in the creation of a double standard, one for men and yet another for women. This, in turn, may disrupt both the ideologies and the educational curriculum of the school. For that reason in particular, the court does not order VMI to admit female students, but rather orders the state of Virginia to come up with a solution in which women are afforded the same opportunities.
The history of women and education has been a long and hard struggle. From as early as 1955 when Adlai Stevenson; addressed the Smith College graduating class and urged them not to define themselves by any profession and to participate in politics through the role of wife and mother. To the emergence of the Women s Liberation groups in 1968 as a spin-off of the male- run student movement. Women have continued their battle for equality through education and will continue to do so until the battle is won.
One of the initial culprit of women s oppression, the United States government is responsible for contributions both in support of and against the cause. For example, in 1971 after a congressional hearing reported that in Virginia 21,000 women and no men were turned down for admission to state schools; the U.S. Senate, at the same time, approved an $18 billion Higher Education Fund but then somehow managed to ignore any attempts to bar sex discrimination in public undergraduate school admissions. But then, almost as if in redress, Congress passed the Education Amendments in 1972, including Title IX, which prohibited sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funds. If an institution did not comply with the law, the government might delay awards of money, revoke current awards or debar institutions from eligibility for future awards. Title IX applied to all schools.
There are a number of differences between both ideologically and physically. But in the end, the idea that equal opportunity should be granted to both genders, outweighs these and other differences. Though the approaches taken by each gender may stand apart from one another, after all is said and done, the desire for equality is cherished by both.