Minnesota State University Moorhead recently ended its NEW Leadership Development Institute hosted by NEW Leadership Northern Lights and Professor Deborah White. The institute offered particularly effective training to strengthen women’s civic leadership, but men were not prohibited from applying or participating. Indeed, some men have been accepted by this institute which has served many emerging leaders in North Dakota, Minnesota and neighboring communities, according to its coordinator.
Women are under-represented in leadership positions throughout North Dakota, including, but not limited to, elected positions statewide and in the legislature. The lived experiences of women differ from those of men, so there is no substitute for women in decision-making roles. The MSUM institute has looked into a real problem.
I am one of the institute’s alumni. It is difficult to fully describe the impact the institute has had on me and other alumni. The impact is deeply meaningful and unique, and it is a truly life changing experience for many. The deliberate focus on the leadership training women need is one of the main reasons for the institute’s enormous contribution.
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NEW Leadership Northern Lights has skillfully nurtured and empowered female leaders without excluding competitive male candidates. Thus, the suspension of the institute by MSUM risks a devastating setback for the development of community leaders.
You might wonder why the directors of MSUM would cease operations of the institute? That’s because Mark J. Perry, a researcher at the DC-based think tank named the American Enterprise Institute, filed a lawsuit alleging Title IX violations. The MSUM institute is a recent target.
John Byrne of Poets & Quants quotes Perry: “There are a lot of female privilege and return on investment in higher education. They like the fact that they are given a disproportionate share of resources in universities. The idea that women in our region are the privileged ones when it comes to leadership would be funny if it weren’t so destructive. But let’s dig deeper into the issues.
First, the wording of Title IX is important: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of their gender, be excluded from participation, denied benefits or be subjected to discrimination in connection with an employment. education program or activity receiving federal funding. financial assistance ”(20 US Code § 1681). The law also states that institutions are not required to give preferential treatment to one sex simply to compensate for an imbalance in participation in a program. Thus, he did not prohibit the MSUM institute from having more female than male participants. However, the law also specifies that such an imbalance can be used as potential evidence of discrimination based on sex.
Ultimately, MSUM decided not to fight Perry’s claim and shut down the institute instead. It’s hard to say what the Civil Rights Office would have decided, given that NEW Leadership Northern Lights has a policy of non-discrimination and ensures that male applicants are given fair value. Reading Perry’s nationwide efforts, he seems concerned about advertising programs with high female participation. Maybe the MSUM institute could have adjusted its advertising, but we’ll never know.
Perry points out that many men have unsuccessful results in higher education. It’s true, and it’s pronounced among low-income men, men with disabilities, men of color, and LGBTQ + men. When men’s needs are not met, real solutions are needed. Derailing efforts to support women in contexts in which they are under-represented is not a solution. Mobilizing resources so that men’s needs are met is a real solution.
Ultimately, NEW Leadership Northern Lights seeks to pursue its institute outside of higher education. Please join me in supporting Deborah White’s efforts to keep the NEW Regional Leadership Development Institute alive. Email [email protected] for more information.
Ellie Shockley is a political psychologist, sociologist and educational researcher. This column represents his personal views and not those of an organization. She received a doctorate from the University of Chicago and a postdoctoral fellowship in Nebraska. She lives in Mandan. Find his past chronicles on EllieShockley.com