A university ‘welcomed’ everyone but men in STEM events. A professor filed a Title IX complaint.
‘Female, non-binary and non-cisgender students’
Marketing materials from a series of events at the University of Cincinnati suggest that they were not open to men, though the administration insists men were allowed to participate.
First brought to light Friday by University of Michigan-Flint economist Mark Perry, a UC press release from September shows that the only group not explicitly “welcomed” to the events was men who identify as men.
The release is titled “UC director of women in engineering announces fall programming for STEM students,” referring to Paula Lampley. Her position is based in the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s Office of Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement.
The subtitle: “All female, non-binary and non-cisgender students are welcomed to attend all events.”
Perry, also a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is fond of identifying women-only events and programs at colleges and claiming they violate Title IX. He has filed corresponding complaints with the Department of Education, resulting in some targeted colleges amending the subjects of complaints.
The College Fix has reviewed a federal complaint he filed against UC regarding the STEM events and another limited to “women of diverse racial backgrounds,” claiming they violate Title IX and Title VI.
‘Open to all and attended by both men and women’
Lampley identified her female-focused title when saying she was “excited to help recruit and support the next generation of Bearcat engineers.” Citing Lampley, the UC release reiterates that “all female, non-binary and non-cisgender students are welcomed to attend all events.”
In the 335-word release, the words men, man or male do not appear at any time. Meanwhile, the word “women” appears seven times, and non-binary and non-cisgender appear twice each. (Cisgender means a person identifies with his or her sex.)
But in an email to The Fix Saturday, UC spokesperson M.B. Reilly said the fall events were “open to all and attended by both men and women.” He said the press release “specifically encouraged attendance by women because women comprise less than 23 percent of the college’s enrollment.”
Reilly did not note that the release explicitly mentions non-binary and non-cisgender students as well, leaving cisgender men as the only unmentioned category. The release does not “encourage” anyone to attend, but rather says specific groups are “welcomed.”
The spokesperson did not respond to a followup email Sunday afternoon asking why the release doesn’t mention men, much less explicitly say they are welcomed to attend.
The events occurred throughout the fall. They included a trip to a professional soccer game in Cincinnati and an “Evening with Industry” event for students seeking to network within the STEM field.
The language of the “Evening with Industry” event also implies that it was reserved for female students:
At this annual event, current female students in engineering and applied science meet with industry representatives before the annual career fall fair. Participants network with industry professionals, learn about different opportunities in their field of interest, review their resumes, and ask questions to [sic] in preparation for the career fair.
Indiana University’s Michael Rushton, director of arts administration programs, challenged Perry’s claim on Twitter.
Echoing the UC spokesperson’s explanation, Rushton wrote: “It’s a Society for Women Engineers event, doesn’t refer to all STEM events, and the line you cite is meant to say that female students from all fields, not just engineering, may attend.”
Rushton also failed to mention the two other groups identified as “welcomed” or note that UC’s release says Lampley and the “college’s undergraduate enrollment staff” – not just the private student group – are planning the events.
Perry responded that the STEM events were “still an illegal violation of Title IX’s clear prohibition of sex discrimination.”
He said he had “just” filed a complaint against the university with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for violations of Title IX and Title VI, alluding to unidentified “color/race” claims. “I expect to prevail,” he concluded.
How about an event for ‘women of non-color’?
Perry shared his complaint with The Fix Sunday night. It mentions three events targeted at women and one targeted at “women of color.”
Submitted to the Cleveland office of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, it says the only group “NOT welcome to attend” the fall events promoted in the UC press release were “cisgender males,” judging by that category’s omission from the “welcomed” language.
The first discriminatory event is a “Welcome Back Kick-Off,” which says female STEM freshmen are “invited” to meet other females in STEM and “female faculty and upperclassmen.” It explicitly invites participants to join the university’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.
Perry said the university fails to offer a “male-only equivalent program” that would make the university’s separation of the sexes legal under Title IX.
The second targeted event is the female-focused Evening with Industry, which occurs again in eight months. (Perry appears to have accidentally added the phrase “single-sex, female-only” to the event description without putting it in brackets, as he does when quoting other parts of UC materials.) The third is the Women in Engineering and Technology Day.
Perry identifies the Women of Color Summer Engineering Program, next scheduled for July, as violating both Title IX and Title VI, which bans discrimination based on race or color.
He presumes that the “diverse racial background” mentioned in the event description would exclude white and Asian women, yet the university does not offer similar male-only and “women of non-color” only programs.
“Possible remedies” that Perry suggests to the Cleveland OCR: “abolishing” the programs, making them “co-ed and race-neutral” and open to “all gender identities and colors,” and adding equivalent programs for men and women of non-color.