Education policies for gender equity: Probing into state responses

Nelly P. Stromquist


The implementation of non-discriminatory sex legislation provides theoretical and empirical grounds to examine responses by the state to gender equality. Tracing the trajectory of one such law in the U.S.—Title IX—over a period of 40 years, this study analyzes the extent to which the state: (1) acted as a unitary body, and (2) functioned to dismantle its own oppressive gender features. By examining the federal government’s three core branches (executive, legislative, and judicial), the study finds differential responses by branch, with the greatest variability expressed by the executive branch, revealing the state to be less than a coherent institution. The study also shows only modest efforts to enforce the law, raising doubts about the commitment of the state to transform the social relations of gender. The state’s framing of gender equality exclusively in terms of non-discriminatory practices falls short of fostering changes in gender mentalities and identities in U.S. educational institutions—an outcome reflected in the persistent gender clustering of fields of study at the university level.


gender; anti-discriminatory sex policies; higher education; state theories

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Copyright (c) 2019 Nelly P. Stromquist

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