From the gym to the classroom, female students have scored dramatic gains in the nine years since the controversial law against sex bias in federally funded education programs was enacted, according to a new study by a presidential advisory panel.
For instance, the enrollment of women in vocational courses dominated by men has more than doubled (to 11 percent) and the share of all professional degrees earned by women has quadrupled (to 25 percent) since 1972. The sheer numbers of women enrolled in professional schools have also grown: in dental school, for example, they increased more than tenfold.
Women earned half of all master's degrees awarded in 1980, and almost one-third of all doctoral degrees, both significant increases, according to the 62-page report released today by the National Advisory Council on Women's Educational Programs.
The share of undergraduate degrees earned by women rose in customarily male fields such as law (from 7 percent to 40 percent), agriculture (6 percent to 27 percent), business and management (10 percent to 31 percent) and engineering (1 percent to 8 percent).
Women have made especially large gains in athletics, "the most visible and familiar aspect" of the law known as Title IX, the report found. In addition:
* Since 1971, the number of females in interscholastic high school sports has increased by 527 percent, to more than one-third of the total.
* Females doubled their participation in intercollegiate athletic programs, to nearly one-third.
* In the last seven years, the number of colleges offering athletic scholarships to women jumped from 60 to 500.
* As recipients of athletic scholarships, females jumped from 1 percent in 1974 to 22 percent today. (This refers to scholarships awarded by institutions belonging to the two major athletic associations.)
* "Big Ten" university athletic budgets for women jumped from an average of $3,500 each in 1974 to between $250,000 and $750,000 by 1978.
But, the report goes on, "some schools are still preventing or discouraging girls' participation" by spending less money on their sports than on boys' sports.
While women make up one-third of college athletes, they still receive only about one-sixth of college athletic budgets.
The indignant locker-room lamentations that Title IX inspired in the beginning have quieted considerably, but they are not dead, one specialist said.
Outside sports, even the previously all-male bastion of Future Farmers of America has been breached, with females now accounting for almost 20 percent of the membership.
Since 1979, women students in colleges have outnumbered men, the report noted.
However, when the focus shifts from student opportunities to jobs in education, the picture is not so impressive. Women continue to trail men in salaries and tenure, and advances have been minimal at the higher levels of employment for female educators--an area covered by several anti-bias laws. Council chairman Susan Vance called this lack of improvement a "real disappointment."
The most significant change in this category was in the number of women heading colleges and universities, which rose from 148 in 1975 to 219 last year.
The proportion of women principals grew only slightly, and fewer than 1 percent of the nation's 16,000 district superintendents are women.
While women showed gradual improvements in lower academic ranks, their proportion at the level of full professor has not changed.
This state of affairs is at least partly the result of financial belt-tightening in higher education at a time of decreasing student enrollment, according to Claire Guthrie of the American Council on Education (ACE). This, plus faculties dominated by relatively young people with tenure, means that "only extremely exceptional people are getting tenured at all today."
The report on the impact of Title IX (a part of the Education Amendments of 1972) was produced by the 17-member council appointed during the Carter administration. It emphasized that despite their gains, women still have more catching up to do and urged a continuing commitment of government at all levels "to complete the job."
In response to questions at a news conference, council chairman Susan Margaret Vance and other members said they do not believe the Reagan administration is withdrawing its support from sex equity in education but that it is shifting the emphasis.
Although it is too early to assess the impact of pending budget and regulatory changes, Vance said, it seems clear that instead of "negative enforcement" such as a threatened cutoff of federal funds, the federal role will tend more toward that of counselor and researcher, as enforcement authority shifts to the state and local levels.
Bernice Sandler, a council member from the District, said that certainly the threat of federal sanctions sped the advances faster than they would otherwise have occurred but, she added, "now the ball is rolling."