AAUW helped spark a nationwide debate on gender bias with the 1991 release of “.” Based on a nationwide poll of students ages 9-15, the report examined the impact of gender on self-esteem, career aspirations, educational experiences, and interest in science and math. The study found that girls experience a significantly greater drop in self-esteem during adolescence than boys do. The poll confirmed a growing body of research that indicated girls are discouraged systematically, if unintentionally, from a wide range of academic pursuits – particularly in math and science.
In 1992, “How Schools Shortchange Girls” was released. Wellesley College Center for Research on Women prepared the report under a contract from the AAUW Educational
Foundation. The report concluded that “20 years after the passage of Title IX, girls continue to receive an unequal education in California schools, and across the nation. By any measure – test scores, curriculum, or teacher/student interaction – girls are being shortchanged. This systemic gender bias in the education system denies girls the opportunities they deserve, and denies California the contribution they can make.”
Potential solutions included
- Awareness of the facts and suggested actions
- Training for teachers, administrators and counselors
- Teaching which uses gender-fair methodologies
- Tracking which encourages girls to select math and science courses and pursue non-traditional career fields
- Testing methodologies that are gender-fair, and
- Educational Reform that strengthens our educational system recognizing the needs of girls.
The Sacramento Branch formed an “Initiative for Educational Equity Committee,” chaired by Dorothy Harvey. We co-sponsored educational roundtables, branch meetings, and committee members (including Jean Bonar, Carole Fedderson, Nancy Lawrence, Pat Morehead, and Linda Whitney) made presentations to our branch, local teachers, and women lawyers and physicians, as well as other groups. We submitted a grant proposal that proposed “the Sacramento Branch of AAUW offers a three-phase GESA (Gender/Ethnic Expectations and Student Achievement) Training of Trainers project for 30 public school teachers and five AAUW branch members between January and May 1993.” Dorothy Harvey, Theresa Bates, Anne Just, Pat Masonheimer, and Myke Taylor had primary responsibility for the grant.
AAUW California and our branch were working hard for equity for girls and women many years before STEM began!