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The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is investigating whether college admission offices are discriminating against female applicants to achieve gender balance in their student bodies.
College enrollment rates for women have increased over the past 20 years. In 2005, 57 percent of the 17.5 million undergraduate students enrolled in college were women, and the
The commission would not give the names of the schools it is investigating but said that it is focusing on a sample group of 10 to 20 within a 100-mile radius of Washington.
The use of gender as part of admission decisions is prohibited at public schools and in private graduate and professional programs. Under the 1972 amendments to the federal Title IX law, private liberal arts colleges do have a legal right to consider gender in admissions. The commission intends, according to its proposal, to document how widespread gender discrimination might be. The group does not have the authority to change the legal rights of private schools. The commission also is looking at whether schools provide equal athletic opportunities.
Using data on undergraduate admissions rates collected from more than 1,400 four-year colleges and universities that participate in the company's rankings, U.S. News has found that over the past 10 years, many selective schools have been maintaining their gender balance by admitting male and female applicants at sometimes drastically different rates.
Over the past decade at the
Nancy Tessier, vice president of enrollment management at Richmond, says the college does not have a gender balance target. But she says that gender, and many other characteristics, factor into the process of making a diverse study body.
Some colleges might have a wide male-female split because of the programs they offer. At
Overall, the nationwide numbers do not suggest widespread discrimination. Data from the
Some experts argue that the commission's probe could be misguided. Lisa Maatz, director of public policy at the
U.S. Civil Rights Commission Investigates College Admission Bias | Zach Miners
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