Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. #1

    Default Can a University Make an Opportunity Available Only to Students of a Specific Gender

    My university sent out a mass email about a research opportunity for STEM students of a specific gender. The research involves a number of engineering and science concepts, but has absolutely no relation to gender, and there is no obvious reason why a male and a female would not be equally qualified for the opportunity. However, the research posting made it very clear that only female students are welcome to apply for this project. The position is unpaid but could seriously boost a selected candidate's career prospects due to the affiliation with the University and with NASA (the program head is a NASA engineer and the program utilizes NASA resources). Is this legally defensible?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16,048

    Default Re: Wondering Whether This Counts As Discrimination

    Quote Quoting confusedperson1123
    View Post
    My university sent out a mass email about a research opportunity for STEM students of a specific gender. The research involves a number of engineering and science concepts, but has absolutely no relation to gender, and there is no obvious reason why a male and a female would not be equally qualified for the opportunity.
    Not obvious to you.

    But a quick internet search reveals that:

    While women make up 47 percent of the US work force, they represent only 26 percent of people who work in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math). Further, only 12 percent of female college students will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in science, and just 3 percent will continue to work in a STEM field 10 years after graduation.
    https://www.collegeraptor.com/find-c...women-in-stem/

    ...researchers at Yale published a study proving that physicists, chemists and biologists are likely to view a young male scientist more favorably than a woman with the same qualifications. Presented with identical summaries of the accomplishments of two imaginary applicants, professors at six major research institutions were significantly more willing to offer the man a job. If they did hire the woman, they set her salary, on average, nearly $4,000 lower than the man’s. Surprisingly, female scientists were as biased as their male counterparts.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/m...n-science.html

    Another article on the dearth of women and minorities in STEM fields:

    https://www.onlinecolleges.net/for-s...norities-stem/

    Quote Quoting confusedperson1123
    View Post
    However, the research posting made it very clear that only female students are welcome to apply for this project. The position is unpaid but could seriously boost a selected candidate's career prospects due to the affiliation with the University and with NASA (the program head is a NASA engineer and the program utilizes NASA resources).

    Is this legally defensible?
    I don't see why not. Affirmative action programs for women, minorities, and the disabled have been around for decades and are part of federal law:

    https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/hiring/affirmativeact

    This research opportunity for women doesn't appear any different.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    6,632

    Default Re: Wondering Whether This Counts As Discrimination

    Quote Quoting confusedperson1123
    View Post
    My university sent out a mass email about a research opportunity for STEM students of a specific gender. The research involves a number of engineering and science concepts, but has absolutely no relation to gender, and there is no obvious reason why a male and a female would not be equally qualified for the opportunity. However, the research posting made it very clear that only female students are welcome to apply for this project. The position is unpaid but could seriously boost a selected candidate's career prospects due to the affiliation with the University and with NASA (the program head is a NASA engineer and the program utilizes NASA resources). Is this legally defensible?
    The details matter, and we don't have them. Since this is an unpaid research opportunity and not a job, this is clearly not illegal discrimination by an employer. As a result, this situation not covered by the Civil Rights Act of 1974, which is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination by private employers that have at least 15 employees and prohibits sex discrimination against employees of state and local governments.

    So the next question is whether the university is private institution (i.e. not owned/operated by a state or local government) or a state/local government owned school. If it is the former, is it receiving federal funds for its programs? A private institution not receiving federal funds is free to discriminate on the basis of sex or pretty much any other basis for that matter. A private institution receiving federal funds and state/local schools are not as free to do that. So for those insititutions the details of the program and why it is restricted to women would matter greatly. For example, it may be perfectly legal if the research opportunity is actually being organized and funded by a private outside organization and it was the one that wanted to sponsor women for the program. So you need to know all the details of the program to determine if any laws prohibiting discrimination are being violated.

    Adjusterjack is right that affirmative action programs can be legal, but the details of those programs matter greatly as a number of affirmative action programs have been tossed out by the courts the past 40 years or so.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    455

    Default Re: Wondering Whether This Counts As Discrimination

    Quote Quoting confusedperson1123
    View Post
    My university sent out a mass email about a research opportunity for STEM students of a specific gender. The research involves a number of engineering and science concepts, but has absolutely no relation to gender, and there is no obvious reason why a male and a female would not be equally qualified for the opportunity. However, the research posting made it very clear that only female students are welcome to apply for this project. The position is unpaid but could seriously boost a selected candidate's career prospects due to the affiliation with the University and with NASA (the program head is a NASA engineer and the program utilizes NASA resources). Is this legally defensible?
    Since we have no information about what's happening beyond what you've posted, we have no way of intelligently assessing whether the discrimination in question is legal or illegal.

    1. Sponsored Links
       

Similar Threads

  1. Education Law Issues: Can a University Change How They Bill Students Mid-Way Through Their Program
    By Lola727 in forum Education Law
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 05-21-2016, 09:18 PM
  2. Student Privacy: Can University Staff Members Date Students
    By miyake44 in forum Education Law
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 01-23-2016, 04:48 AM
  3. Modification of Support: Is There a Specific Time Frame for a Family Court Judge to Make a Decision
    By MikesMom in forum Child Custody, Support and Visitation
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 08-14-2011, 10:30 AM
  4. Parking Violations: Parking Tickets Written by Students at a University
    By VinceColeman in forum Moving Violations, Parking and Traffic Tickets
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 10-06-2009, 02:51 PM
 
 
Sponsored Links

Legal Help, Information and Resources