Never Mind That Gender Imbalance

In December 2009, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights began to investigate whether or not American colleges were guilty of gender bias. The commission is killing the study, for questionable reasons.

Only 40 percent of college students are male. The probe was an attempt to see if colleges were attempting to address this gender imbalance by favoring men, admitting them at higher rates or offering them better aid. The study, which had implications for college athletics, was controversial.

Well, um, let’s just not worry about that. Last month the commission voted 4-3 to suspect the study. According to a piece in Inside Higher Ed:

The commission’s acting assistant staff director for civil rights evaluation [who is male]… described three colleges as “holdout[s]” that had failed to provide the requested data (on academic credentials of applicants by gender, among other things) or to do so in the format requested by the panel, and gently rebutted assertions by Dina Titus — a commissioner, professor of government at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and former Democratic member of Congress — that the data collected to date were of questionable quality.

“I would say that at this point, having heard that report and concerns with the data, we don’t want to put out something based on faulty or incomplete data,” Titus said, according to a transcript of the meeting provided by the commission. “I would just move that we suspend this data and move forward with other things.”

Despite the fact that the reluctance of some schools to provide good data might indicate that there’s a problem requiring serious investigation, that’s exactly what the commission is going to do, “suspend this data and move forward with other things.”

Another member of the commission, Gail Heriot of the University of San Diego, pointed out that the commission always has trouble collecting data.

“And if this one is canceled when it is almost done…” said Heriot, “then we had better cancel every project we are ever going to do and might as well just go home.”

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer