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Sex Bias In Schools Charged By City Women's Group

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An 80-page report charging sexual discrimination - primarily against females - in the Ann Arbor Public Schools was presented to the Board of Education last night. No action was taken on the report last night, but most trustees (with the possible exception of Ted Heusel, who laughed aloud several times during the presentation) seemed favorably impressed with the study. Trustee Henry Johnson called it a "very excellent and informative report. I just hope we can take some of the steps you suggest," he said. School Supt. W. Scott Westerman Jr. said he subscribes to the report "wholeheartedly," but suggested that the women must also attack the social order to bring about changes. Trustee Cecil W. Warner seemed generally in favor of the report, but had some reservations : "When you train people for jobs, I think you have to realize that women are better biologically prepared for certain jobs than others, for example, working with small objects on an assembly line." The independent report, entitled "Let Them Aspire: A Plea and Proposal for Equality of Opportunity For Males and Females in the Ann Arbor Public Schools," was prepared over a fivemonth period by a group of city women who cali themselves The Committee To Elimínate Sexual Discrimination in the Public Schools. That committee is headed by Ann Arborite Marcia Federbush. Mrs. Federbush warned the trustees last night that they had "better take the report senously or else ... in two or three years girls will start giving you the same problems other students who want equality now are giving you." I Discrimination against junior highl and high school boys wishing to learn 1 household . skills and against primary I school boys because of a lack of male I elementary teachers were the two mainl areas of discrimination against males discussed in the report. Four main areas of discrimination against females were detailed in the report: 1) In books, primarily elementary texts, used in the schools. The report says women and girls are incorrectly stereotyped in most of the j books. 2) In athletic programs. Last year, the report says 10 times more money was spent on boys' athletI ics at the two high schools than on girls' I sports. I 3) In industrial arts and home ecoI nomics programs. The report charges I that girls are discouraged and in the I past were often not allowed to take I many industrial arts and vocational edu1 catión classes and were programmed to I be future housewives, instead. I 4) In areas requiring administrative f changes, such as hiring more female principáis, assistant principáis and administrators, designing of new buildings with facilities for both sexes in technical rooms, etc. Mrs. Federbush's committee recommended that citizens' committees be formed to review and re-evaluate the four areas just mentioned - textbooks, athletics, industrial arts and home economics courses and administrative needs. Other main recommendations of the report included : 1) Appointment of an ombudswoman' or a team of ombudswomen "to keep a continuous check on sexual discrimination in the schools . . ." 2) Establishment of in-service training programs for school personnel "to help heighten awareness of the vast area of prejudice against women and to help elimínate this discrimination in our public schools." 3) Introduction of a course on The History of Women, plus purchasing a new book by historian Ann Scott entitled "Women In American Life." The committee's report commented that "it is certainly not the intent of our school personnel to discriminate" (several months ago School Supt. W. Scott Westerman Jr. issued a memo saying he and his staff woulfl work to eliminate sexual discrimination in the schools). The report also said the committee believes "those involved in discriminatory programs are not aware by and large that they are doing so." But the report insists that "clearcut sexual discrimination is built into state athletic rules, reading and mathematics b o o k s , union membership, societal expectations, historical writings, and so on." Mrs. Federbush's group 1 a u d e d Westerman's efforts to end sexual discrimination, and said the aim of the report is to "help Dr. Westerman and our entire school system carry out the goal of ensuring equality of opportunity to males and females in the Ann Arbor Public Schools." The committee said it concentrated largely on discrimination against females "becausewe feel that girls and women are so much more handicapped in this regard than are boys and men . . . Clearly to say that males should have equal opportunity with females is much like saying whites should have equal opportunity with blacks." Local women who contributed to the study besides Mrs. Federbush were Lorraine Autin, Nan Beebe, Constance Einstadter, Kay Forsythe, Jacqueline Keen, Lois Lehman, Julia Morris, Harriet Powers, Rusty Schumacher and Maggie Stevens. Following is a more detailed description of the four main areas in the Ann Arbor Public School which the report says discriminates against women. The problem is stated first, then the solution offered by the committee: TEXTBOOKS A.) Mathematics books: "New math" and its stress on sets has caused elementary mathematics texts to group (next page please) SEX BIAS IN SCHOOLS... (continued) people m rigidly defmed sex roles - ï.e. all doctors are males, all nurses females, etc. "It is not only the adults who are stereotyped in math book pictures," the report sta tes. "Boys are active - they run, play ball, and play band instrument. Girls tend to stand and I smile sweetly or jump rope." B) Elementary reading books: Women are pictured almost exclusively as housewives doing household chores. (In one series, 7 out of 10 women pictured wore aprons.) All motherare pictured as housewives, at a time when 53 per cent of married women are working. Usually the only profession women are pictured at are as teachers (never principal). SOLUTION: Ask publishers to stop stereotyping sexually. Purchase books relatively free from stereotyping. C) History books: History books tain almost no women, "thus giving I girls no models of aspiration." Most of those included are either artists or witters or feminists instrumental in gaining the vote for women. SOLUTION: Purchase "Women In American Life" by Ann Scott and other history books detailing accomplishments of women. ATHLETIC PROGRAMS The report charges the Michigan High School Athletic Association which governs the interscholastic athletic activities of all high schools and junior highs with obvious discrimination against females. Two of the most discriminatory rules, according to the report, are that females may not have a male coach or play on coed teams. I "Excellent girl athletes thus cannot I receive training in our schools if there are not scparatëmafSeAM report says. Instead, girls must "join I outside organizations and pay f ees fo'r coaches, for pool time, for busing and for entrance to competí tions." SOLUTION: "Break the rules of the MHSAA and permit girls who wish to receive specialized coaching in such fields as track, gymnastics, swimming, golf and tennis to be coached and to play along with the boys ... The rules are clearly prejudicial and are now being reviewed by the State Board of Education. The Ann Arbor Board of Education should certainly join in insisting that the MHSAA make its rules undis crimina tory. " Locally, the report details the following practices: ! A) During 1969-70, expenditures for boys' team sports at Pioneer and Huron High schools totaled $68,025, 10 times the amount spent on girls' sports activities at the two high schools. The girls' figure was $6,296. "That boys' sports bring in revenue is not a justifiable excuse for spending more money on them," the report says. "Public schools are not supposed to be profit-making institutions." SOLUTION: "Seriously review the great dispartiy in athletic financing; too much money is being spent on too few students." B) Salaries for coaches for the boys' high schools teams this year total 608 per cent above base salaries. Salaries for the coaches of all girls' athletics at the two high schools amount to 88 per cent above base pay. SOLUTION: Hire more women coaches and pay them on a more equal basis with men coaches. A number of examples picked to show I discrimination against females in Ann Arbor's junior highs sports, also were discussed in the rennrt INDUSTRIAL ARTS AND HOME ECONOMICS The report charges that girls are not encouraged (and in f act are usually discouraged) from learning industrial arts and vocational education. The emphasis is on being future housewives, instead. Mrs. Federbush told the board she recently heard of a girl who wanted to take an advanced math course but was not scheduled for it because her adviser said she "already had all the math any girl needs." Many other similar comments also were included. Likewise, boys who wish to learn some homemaking skills often are discouraged. SOLUTION: Redesign the coñtents of home economics, industrial arts and vocational education courses to appeal to both sexes. Guarantee that all courses are open to both sexes, and do away with "separate but equal" courses for girls that give watered-down versions of those classes offered to boys. "If we do not train both girls and boys to feel at home with household as well as mechanical skills, we are guaranteeing that women will continue to be dependent on men for technical help and men will continue to be dependent on women for household services," the i report says. ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES This section concentrated primarily on the__need_for_ more high-level female (over please) " SEX BIAS IN SCHOOLS... (continued) admimstrators in the public schools. There are currently five vromen principáis in Ann Arbor's 25 elementary schools, and two female assistant principáis. On the secondary level, there is only one female assistant principal and no women principáis. Why are there so few women principáis and vice principáis in Ann Arbor? Mrs. Federbush says a high-ranking (male) school official gave her the following answer: "Face it; women have the babies so they have to take care of the children. If men had the babies, they would take care of the children." The report argües there is a great need for female students to have contact with competent women who will encourage girls to gain capabilities and interests. Women are also needed to "help other teachers and administrators in the schools to recognize girls as serious, complete human beings who can aspire to lives of accomplishment." SOLUTION: Seek outstanding women to administer Ann Arbor's administrative positions when the positions become available.