Women in Higher Education

By W. Todd Furniss; Patricia Albjerg Graham | Go to book overview

Martha P. Rogers


The Role of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

When the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was first given its mandate by Congress in July 1965 to eliminate job discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, academic personnel were excluded from its coverage. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which created the EEOC, specifically exempted faculty and administrators. However, on March 24, 1972, President Nixon signed into law the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, which amended title VII to include an estimated four million employees of educational institutions.

The years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act have seen a revitalization of the women's rights movement and an increasing focus on the status of women in higher education. Numerous studies, including the 1970 hearings by Representative Edith Green's Special Subcommittee on Education, have examined this problem. Without exception, the studies documented a massive and invidious pattern of discrimination against women in American higher education. During the February 1972 Senate debate on including educational institutions under title VII, Senator Harrison Williams argued:

Perhaps the most extensive discrimination in educational institutions is found in the treatment of women. . . . In institutions of higher education women are almost totally absent in the position of academic dean, and are grossly underrepresented in all other major faculty positions. Also, I would add, that this discrimination does not only exist as regards to the acquiring of jobs, but that it is similarly prevalent in the area of salaries and promotions, where studies have shown a well-established pattern of unlawful wage differentials and discriminatory promotion policies.

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