Chancellor's Friday Letters

Women make great strides

Women make great strides

February 11, 2011

“I am both dyslexic and suffer from ADHD.  During the recruiting process, I looked at a number of universities. I chose to attend UCR over Rutgers and other schools back east because UCR had the support and resources for someone like me who needs a little extra help.  What I needed was a chance; UCR gave it to me and the people here really care.   And now, thanks to an athletic scholarship, I am pursuing my goal of becoming a special education teacher.”

Briana Feldhaus
UCR Student Athlete
Track and Field


One student.  One scholarship.  One dream fulfilled.

Starting with the goal of “99 for Title IX”, a group of women in the community and on campus came together two years ago to plan an annual event to raise scholarship funds for UCR’s women athletes.  This year’s fundraiser, held on Tuesday of this week, drew more than 99 people and generated nearly $20,000 for scholarships for student-athletes.  The event’s name refers to Title IX, a federal law passed in 1972 that requires gender equity in every educational program receiving federal funding.

And $20,000 is enough for one more scholarship.

Although the original statute didn’t even mention sports, today Title IX is known primarily for its positive impact on high school and college sports participation, especially for young women.  And, as heard in conversations throughout Tuesday evening, it has worked.  Women who were in school prior to Title IX’s passage reminisced about what it meant to play basketball in those days.  Girls were allowed to dribble the ball no more than three times before passing or taking a shot.  They could play only on half courts.  For women, the sport was considered recreational rather than competitive.

And look at the Women’s Basketball Highlanders now!  Three-time participants in the NCAA Division I finals, with a fierceness and following once seen only in men’s sports.

But Title IX has brought us much more.  Thanks in large part to this far-reaching legislation, women now receive 56 percent of the undergraduate degrees and 50 percent of the Ph.D.s in America.  As a result, they have now joined men in the highest echelons of the corporate world, choose to work in academe, and are elected to public office.

But we still have a long way to go, particularly in fields related to science and technology.   For example, women receive 47 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and 40 percent in physical sciences.  In contrast, women are awarded only 25 percent of doctoral degrees in each of these areas.   In engineering, women receive only 18 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 21 percent of master’s degrees, and 12 percent of doctoral degrees.

Similar numbers appear nationally in the education workforce.  While 65 percent of teachers are women, they comprise only 35 percent of school principals.  And although women make up more than 50 percent of lecturers and instructors in higher education, they represent fewer than 50 percent of assistant professors, 36 percent of associate professors, and only 21 percent of full professors.  Only 19 percent of all U.S. colleges and universities are led by women.

But women are a force that cannot be stopped.

Look at our student athlete, Briana Feldhaus, who has overcome her own learning disabilities and is working to help others overcome theirs.  And she is doing this while competing at a high level in track and field – and gaining valuable life lessons in the process.

Look at Pricila Chavez Lara, the student I wrote about last October, who was first in her family to complete middle school and is now a 4.0 GPA music major who performs with UCR’s Chamber Ensemble, holds down three part-time jobs, and mentors community college students in science, math, engineering, and technology – when she isn’t giving private music lessons.

Look at Marizabel Orellana, also the subject of a previous Friday Letter, who as a single mom is pursuing a medical degree while at the same time volunteering for a youth mentorship program and the student run health clinic.  For this she received a leadership award from the American Medical Association.

Valentine’s Day is Monday.  If these women – and the many others like them at UCR – do not touch your heart, I don’t know what will.

With regards,


Timothy P. White


P.S.  Some of you may have heard that yesterday during a routine cardiac diagnostic procedure, I ended up having a stent inserted into an artery in my heart.  I am happy to report that the procedure went extremely well.  I am going home today and will be back at work on Monday.  More information is available at:

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