Michigan Gender Equity Team

NEWSLETTER

MICHIGAN GENDER EQUITY TEAM

Michigan Sexual Assault Action Proposal

Posted Tuesday, September 30, 2014 by Tom Wilson


The U.S. Department of Education declared in 2011 that sexual assault and harassment are federally recognized forms of discrimination. A National Institute of Justice study suggests that as many as one in five women will face sexual assault while she is in college. Universities have mishandled sexual assault cases and retaliated against victims.


One assailant was found responsible of assault by the school’s disciplinary hearing, he was barely punished. While he was placed on disciplinary probation, he was allowed to remain on the same campus as his victim, ordered to take sexual assault education classes and given a $25 fine. A victim who worked for a university was fired, because she expressed displeasure with the universities lack of progress in processing her complaint.


Under Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, schools have a responsibility to prevent and deter sex-based harassment, including when that harassment occurs against students for failing to conform to stereotyped ideas of masculinity or femininity. This means, for example, when boys are called offensive gender-based names or are bullied for “effeminate” behavior, such targeting for abuse based on their sex is prohibited under Title IX.


Unfortunately, too many schools, from elementary to post-secondary, fail to live up to their obligations. Recent research found that bullying affects nearly one in three American school children in grades six through ten. [1] The Girl Scout Research Institute reports that girls, in particular, are most concerned about their emotional safety. [2] Such widespread insecurity prevents students from focusing on learning and reaching their academic potential.


Adopting clear and actionable policies to combat bullying and harassment will help to provide students with a positive school climate in which they have the opportunity to thrive. Congress is currently considering two bills that would help address such pernicious harassment and abuse.


Neena Chaudhry from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) suggested sexual harassment information from the NWLC web site (http://www.nwlc.org/our-blog/title-ix-protects-everyone-sex-based-harassment-or-least-it-should ).


Kristen Galles, a civil rights attorney in the Washington D.C. area, suggested information on the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, web site (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/sexhar00.html )


All educational institutions should have the following on their official web sites:

  1. Non Discrimination Policy
  2. Policy against Sexual Harassment
  3. Name and contact information for their Title IX Coordinator
  4. Grievance procedure for reporting, investigating, and responding to claims of sexual harassment


Schools must widely disseminate the above information to students, faculty, and employees. If your school isn’t doing these things, I will help you file a Federal Civil Rights Complaint or refer you to someone else.


See 34 C.F.R. 106.8 & 106.9


I would like us to put the pressure on in Michigan. No matter if we are talking about high schools or colleges, small or large, let’s all pick a school to follow-up on.

  • At a minimum, lets each pick a school in the immediate area where you are, to check that schools web site, for the above 4 items,
  • If all 4 aren’t there, make a call to the school and ask to speak to the schools Title IX Coordinator,
  • If you are able to speak to the Title IX Coordinator, point out the shortcomings and ask for a timeframe for when they will be corrected,
  • If there is no timeline or timelines are not met, either you may or inform me (tom.wilson@wyan.org) of what you found and I will file a Title IX complaint.


Thomas Wilson, President

Michigan Gender Equity Team (M GET)



Wikigender

Posted Thursday, February 12, 2009 by Tom Wilson


Wikigender ( http://www.wikigender.org/index.php/Main_Page) is your (United States and world-Wide) online platform to find and exchange information related to gender equality. Users are invited to comment on or improve existing articles, and to create or upload new documents. Please check it out and participate.


Tom Wilson, President

Michigan Gender Equity Team (M GET)

http://www.mi-gender-equity.com/

734-286-2412 (work)



Stop Female Genital Mutilation

Posted Sunday, November 9, 2008 by Tom Wilson


Dear Tom, I would like to share a powerful article from today’s Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/02/AR2008110202219.html) that highlights the plight of several Tahirih clients who have suffered female genital mutilation and whose lives continue to be affected by the violence they have suffered. Interviews with Tahirih clients, as well as quotes from Layli Miller-Muro, Tahirih’s Executive Director, are included in the article. In addition, the article discusses how recent court decisions threaten to challenge legal protections available to women and girls fleeing female genital mutilation.


Thank you for allowing us to share our work and for your continued support of our efforts to protect women and girls.


Warm regards,

Ms. Allyn B. Summa

Director of Development and Communications

Tahirih Justice Center


Through direct legal services and public policy advocacy, the Tahirih Justice Center (http://www.tahirih.org/ ) works to protect immigrant women and girls seeking justice in the United States from gender-based violence. Donate now to help assure that Tahirih can respond to urgent pleas for assistance.



Hall of Fame Induction 10-15-2008

Posted Sunday, November 9, 2008 by Tom Wilson


Lansing, MI —One honoree is the nation’s first Native American literary writer, still cited in scholarly articles and anthologies 150 years after her death. Another founded the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and spearheaded its development for 28 years. A third was the first director of the Michigan Women’s Commission.


These distinguished women and four others have been selected for induction into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.


The Hall of Fame, established 25 years ago this year, was the brainchild of the Michigan Women’s Studies Association (MWSA), a professional organization of academicians concerned about what is being thought and taught about women in the state’s schools, colleges, and universities. “It was a natural extension of our work in the classroom,” explained MWSA President Gladys Beckwith, “and another means of disseminating information about Michigan women, past and present.”


Patterned after the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York, the Michigan Hall was the first of its kind to recognize high-achieving women of an individual state.


Over the years, nearly 250 women have been named to this esteemed body. Some are ‘firsts’ or ‘founders’; that is, they were the first females to assume a particular role of leadership, such as Michigan’s first female U.S. senator Debbie Stabenow, or the founders of new entities like Bina West Miller, who established the first life insurance company for women. Another category of women are considered experts in their fields: for instance, Catherine Carter Blackwell is a recognized authority on African history and culture. And many inductees are Michigan’s proud representatives on a national stage. An example of this is Lily Tomlin, whose creative abilities have earned her two Tonys, six Emmys, a Grammy, two Peabody Awards, and an Academy Award nomination.


Biographical information, photographs, and lesson plans relating to the inductees may be found on the Hall of Fame website at www.michiganwomenshalloffame.org and a commemorative plaque for each woman hangs in the Hall of Fame gallery, located within the Michigan Women’s Historical Center in Lansing. (The development of this center, which houses a museum dedicated to Michigan women’s history and art, a library of women’s resource materials, and public meeting spaces, is another important accomplishment of the Michigan Women’s Studies Association.)


The 2008 Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame honorees in the Historical Category are:

*Jane Johnston Schoolcraft

This storyteller, translator, essayist, and poet—born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie—is considered to be the nation’s first Native American literary writer.


*Leta Snow

An accomplished pianist, she founded the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and served as its steadfast president and manager for 28 years.


*Sister Mary Francilene Van de Vyver

For over 25 years, this Felician nun presided over Livonia’s Madonna University: spearheading efforts that doubled enrollment and established innovative academic offerings.


The Hall of Fame honorees in the Contemporary Category are:

*Carol Atkins

From her home in Manistee, this author, poet, and playwright has advanced feminist themes and theories since the 1960s.


*Patricia Cuza

As the first executive director of the Michigan Women’s Commission, Cuza shaped the agency into an advocate for women as well as a legitimate governmental entity.


*Carol King

A filmmaker and crusader for political, social, and economic equality for women, this Detroiter presided over Michigan NOW and fought for the Equal Rights Amendment.


*Vicki Neiberg

This East Lansing resident has distinguished herself as an educator and advocate for juvenile justice, labor, and women’s rights.


Also honored on the evening of October 15 was Thomas Wilson, recipient of the Philip A. Hart Award for his work on behalf of gender equity in Michigan high school athletics.



Same Gender Class for Boys in Reading Posted

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 by Tom Wilson


Dear Friends, I know there are some pilot same gender schools and classes in Michigan, although they can't legally exclude the other gender. Does anyone have examples in Michigan of programs targeting same gender general education classes for boys in K-12, that helps them with topics such as reading, where boys typically need more support than girls? Please respond to me if you know of any?


Tom Wilson, Incorporator

Michigan Gender Equity Team (M GET)

4045-23rd Street

Wyandotte, Michigan 48192-6902

734-286-2412 (cell)



(Michigan) Pay Equity Network (PEN)

Posted Sunday, April 17, 2005 by Tom Wilson


Friends,

Consider a membership in the (Michigan) Pay Equity Network (PEN). The PEN of Michigan, was formed in 1985 to study pay inequities among classifications of state employees. When the goal than, was not achieved, labor, women's and civil rights groups continued to try to eliminate sex and race based wage discrimination. PEN of Michigan has declared September 24, PAY-InEquity DAY, the day on which men have been paid as much in a part of the year in Michigan, as women will receive, working for the whole year. Women in Michigan earn $.67 for every dollar the men earn. Michigan is next to the worst in the nation. After PEN of Michigan had been in place, the National Committee on Pay Equity was formed and also created a Pay Equity day, on a Tuesday in April, to speak to these same shortcoming (see http://www.wageproject.org). The timing of the national day relates to how many more months and days into the next year a woman must work to earn (a 15 month, some number of days, year for women) the same as a man does in a 12 month year. To join PEN of Michigan in the work to end the extreme pay discrimination in Michigan, call 313-562-6924 or e-mail PollyHowe@juno.com.



Important Brain and Chemical Differences Between Boys and Girls

Posted Thursday, January 22, 2004 by Tom Wilson


According to Michael Gurian, Ph.D. (http://www.Michael-Gurian.com), in his book “The Wonder of Boys”, there are important brain and chemical differences between boys and girls. The following excerpts from Dr. Gurians book are meant to highlight findings that make the case that when people wonder why boys and men are as they are, do as they do, some of the answer has to do with biological issues pre-determined at birth. Pointing these biological explanations out is not meant as an excuse, but is meant as a plea that we should take under performing areas of both boys and girls into account and create strategies to lift up these areas to the benefit of all. Pointing out some areas where boys are challenged does not mean that boys are underserved in all areas. At the same time we consider possible biological realities for boys, we need to exert more control over the social factors that lead to many of the behavioral gender differences we see. We need to remember that the social expectations that parents and teacher’s set continue to be extremely impactful too.


During fetal life when the brain and nervous system are being organized, the female cortex (brain) develops in advance of the male cortex. The left half of the cortex (the part of the brain that controls thinking) develops somewhat later than the right (the part that works with spatial relationships). In males, though, there is an even greater lag. As a result, one neurologist says, when the right side is ready to hook up with the left side (by sending over connecting nerve fibers), in the male the appropriate cells don’t yet exist on the left. So (the fibers) go back and instead form connections within the right hemisphere. One of the results of this structural difference is increased focus in the male brain on spatial relationships and activity.


The female cortex develops faster than the males and because of this it is able to create the larger corpus callosum and because that bundle of nerves is larger, it is more able to enjoy more cross talk between the left and right hemispheres. One reason boys do less well in reading is due to their smaller corpus callosum. a. Is this a contributor to boys consistently being less proficient than girls in MEAP writing scores?


The brain that will read better is the brain that can draw more heavily on both sides of the brain at once, as girls can do. The smaller corpus callosum in boys is also one of the reasons boys find it more difficult to identify with accuracy the emotions on another person’s face. a. Is this a contributor keeping boys/men from making more consistent emotional relationship connections with girls/women?


If we could look even deeper into the brain, we would identify a neurotransmitter, serotonin, which inhibits aggressive behavior, and which exists in higher levels in girls than boys. Serotonin works with hormones secreted in the hypothalamus of the brain, hormones like testosterone. A boy’s brain secretes more testosterone than a girl’s and transmits less serotonin. Boys become all the more aggressive, girls less aggressive. a. Is this a contributor to Michigan school discipline interventions that lead to expulsion being 3 to 1 males? b. Is this a contributor to more boys (159,953 boys and 78,394 girls in 2002) in Michigan being identified as requiring special education?


Rubin Gur at the University of Pennsylvania noticed structural differences in the way girls and boys use their left and right hemispheres. Gur has shown through his process how the male brain is not set up to be verbal but the female brain is.


Overall brain research has shown how the female brain is at work in more sections than the male just about all of the time. It is on call in a way the male is not. In a way, the male brain turns on to do its task, and then turn off.


Girls complain that boys don’t listen, women complain that men don’t hear, people don’t feel heard by boys and men. Males in general hear in one ear better than in the other. Females in general hear more data and hear equally well in both ears.


I take the above findings to mean that even though reading and MEAP tested writing skills, are important to both boys and girls, it is especially important that educators and parents help boys make up for the skill deficit that boys generally start with. It appears boys need extra early work to get them to a point where they can proceed forward on an equal footing with girls in certain areas. If boys don’t get this extra help and are allowed to stay and fall further behind girls, we will continue to experience many of the same and more, negative societal, personal and relationship consequences we currently see.



Critical Unequal School Service Indicators

Posted Saturday, November 15, 2003 by Tom Wilson


Critical Unequal Service Indicators

Michigan’s schools many times create a climate that tolerates and encourages gender-biased behavior and results.


Girls receive dramatically less support in sports, some examples;

  1. Boys routinely receive cheerleader and pep band support. Girls rarely do,
  2. Boys regularly play on one school night and a prime time night, while many Michigan girls play on two school nights and rarely play on a prime time night,
  3. Even with male sports receiving the vast majority of financial and in-kind support by boosters, schools take next to no action to balance booster or other support between boys and girls, etc, on there own.


Girls are not encouraged or supported enough to consider the many career areas that are nontraditional for them, some examples;

  1. There are 20 career clusters out of 400 the Labor Department identifies as nontraditional to girls, while there are barely two nontraditional to boys
  2. Women account for 19% of the enrollments in Trade & Industry, up from 14% in 1978, not a great deal of change for a 30-year mandate under Title IX.
  3. While many people are at least somewhat aware of the low participation of women in IT careers, few realize that both the percentage and total number of bachelor's degrees awarded in Computer Science to women decreased almost every year over the last decade. This is in direct contrast to almost every other area of science and engineering where participation by women has significantly increased. Only 14.4% of employees in IT are female (Myers, 1999); and that there was only a 2% increase in the number of women in high-tech fields between 1991-1996 (Myers, 1999).
    The current percentage of Computer Science B.Sc. graduates from U.S. research-intensive universities (i.e. those offering a Ph.D. in Computer Science) is approximately 17%.
  4. Schools are not helping much at all to break the pattern of large numbers of girls being overtly steered because of historic gendered career patterns, into low paying jobs, traditional to women, even though 90% of girls will become the sole support for themselves –family in their lifetime. This results in 37.5% of female head of households with children living in poverty.


Dr. James Nuttall of MDOE reports that more boys (159,953 in 2002) than girls (78,394 in 2002) are identified as requiring special education services. To some people, this may mean girls are under identified. It may mean that boys are over identified. Boys may be over identified in part because it is hard to tolerate the more aggressive nature of immature boys. Helping boys to be more controlled and communicative may be a better approach. We continue to allow boys to under perform in language arts, as compared to girls, we continue a pattern where many more boys then girls are less able to effectively empathize or communicate. In the MEAP essential skills for writing,


  1. The differential between the percentage of males (48) being proficient writers, and females (63) in 2002, was 15% in the 5th grade statewide,
  2. The differential between the percentage of male’s (57) being proficient writers, and females (75) in 2002, was 18% in the 7th grade statewide, and there were traditional similar repeated differentials, in every preceding year.
  3. In the statewide class of 2001 (11th grade) MEAP Writing results, 33% of the students in level 1 (the highest level) were males (67% females), a spread of 34% in favor of successful writing skills being dominated by females, 42% in level 2 were males (58% females), 56% in level 3 were males (44% females) and 67% in level 4 (the lowest level) were males (33% females).


The MEAP scoring guide for writing indicates that submissions receive low scores when they have little focus or lack central ideas, where organization of thought is lacking and where a lack of vocabulary interferes with understanding. The downside for boys is that neither our modern day interpersonal relationships nor the demands of an increasingly complex workplace, will tolerate a lack of understanding of information, a lack of sufficient vocabulary to communicate information or a lack of being able to retain and relate information.


In terms of school discipline intervention leading to expulsion, the 2001-2002 State School Safety Practices Report, indicated there were 1,525 total expulsions (assaults/350, drugs/304, weapons/250, other behavior/157 and verbal/107), which was 1/10th of 1% of the total school population, 1/4 of the total expulsions in the 9th grade, expulsions were 3 to 1 males, males were more likely expelled for violence and girls more likely expelled for drugs. Is it reasonable to believe that some of the male violence became an option to communicate a message that many boys were not taught to deliver in a more acceptable way? Would it make better use of resources to provide the extra support to boys early, to overcome the serious under performance of boys in writing, to create classrooms and hall environments where bullying is not allowed early, as a way to eliminate a large part of future discipline impacts?


In our secondary school classrooms, the pattern for boys is they are expected to shout-out, while girls are expected to wait their turn. Boys see they are heard, girls sometimes feel they are not seen.


Because of situations like these, many Michigan children still are being limited to historic gender stereotyped roles and many of them continue to receive unequal support by our schools. If you have ideas on how to change this or want to help, please "contact us".


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