U.S. Agencies Quiz Universities On the Status of Women in Science

The U.S. government has begun questioning research universities to determine whether their treatment of women students in science and engineering violates federal law. Science has learned that officials from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE), and NASA have visited four academic departments on three campuses in the past 14 months to monitor their compliance with a 1972 law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities federal funds. The law’s Title IX has traditionally been used to broaden women’s participation in high school and college athletics; educators say it’s the first time the government has applied it to long-standing gender imbalances in fields such as physical sciences and engineering.

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