Thinking of steering students away from a sexist field?

Such steering may be illegal, according to an article in the latest CHE:

Breaking new ground in its enforcement of civil-rights laws, the Education Department is investigating whether a Columbia University professor discriminated against a student by steering her away from a course on the basis of her Jewish background.

… The investigation of Columbia University by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights is examining whether [there was a civil rights violation] when an academic department chairwoman allegedly discouraged an Orthodox Jewish student from taking a class taught by a professor who has been accused of anti-Israel bias.

Although the Education Department has often investigated complaints that elementary or secondary schools illegally tracked students into low- or high-ability classes based on their ethnicity or race, several veteran higher-education lawyers said Tuesday that they could not recall any similar investigation of alleged discrimination in academic advising at a college.

In considering the idea that bias in academic advising could violate federal civil-rights laws, the Office for Civil Rights could be opening the door to similar investigations involving other forms of discrimination, such as cases involving female students who were discouraged from enrolling in engineering programs considered unwelcoming to women, or black students whose race was cited by advisers who encouraged them to major in black studies.

Arthur L. Coleman, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of education in the Office for Civil Rights who now is a managing partner at EducationCounsel, a firm that advises colleges, declined to comment specifically on the Columbia controversy. But in general, he said, colleges seek to avoid even subtly steering students into certain classes or fields based on their race, ethnicity, or gender.

Noting that colleges’ efforts to promote diversity on campus are premised on the assumption that such diversity promotes the robust exchange of ideas, Mr. Coleman said any steering of students to avoid exposing them to disagreements in the classroom “raises a set of fundamental concerns” related to a college’s educational mission.

As far as I can see, “anti-Israel” bias is considered as a clash of ideas. There is a question about whether sexism – in the form, say, of “being unwelcoming to women” – would be analogous.

There is a difficulty, it seems to me, in that a climate hostile to women is supposed to be illegal. Perhaps, though, it can be illegal to steer peple away from academic depts with illegal activities if one does it because of the students’ ethnicity or gender.

Ontario teachers’ discipline chief resigns

Usually I think that one’s day job and one’s personal activities ought to be kept separate. Lawyer by day, dominatrix by night? No one’s business but your own I say. You want to teach English history and write smut on the side, that’s your decision.Calls for Professors, Deans, and Provosts to resign for sexual behavior outside the classroom are uncalled for, I think. But a recent case in Canada has me thinking that sometimes it does matter what one says, does, or writes outside the workplace. Here’s the case: According to the CBC, the head disciplinarian for Ontario teachers has resigned after it was revealed he authored a sexually infused novel for teenagers. Jacques Tremblay is stepping down from his position as chair of the Ontario College of Teachers’ discipline committee after it was revealed that Tremblay co-authored a teen novel, The Sexteens and the Fake Goddes. The novel published in 2008 tells the story of two Grade 9 students who rely on “cleverness and sex appeal” to confront authority figures.

The content of the novel and the author’s day job seem to me to be in conflict. I think it’s right that he resigned. Thoughts?

You can read more from the CBC here.

Australia Opens Combat Posts to Women

The Australian military will now allow women to take frontline combat roles. This happened as the result of a new policy allowing all military positions to be filled on merit rather than gender within five years. Only three of Australia’s military partners allow women on the frontlines — New Zealand, Canada and Israel.

For more, see here.