Where Do You Find Gender Discrimination? Professor Says It Is The National Geographic Bee

Minot State University professor emeritus Eric Clausen has filed his second federal complaint alleging that he was retaliated against by the National Geographic Society after he complained that the contest discriminated against girls because virtually no girls have won the national title.

Clausen believes that the National Geographic Society violates federal laws on gender equity and says that he was warned not to raise these concerns.

Clausen’s first lawsuit was dismissed in 2005 in Clausen v. National Geographic Society, 664 F. Supp. 2d 1038. In his first complaint, he recounted how he demanded a change to give girls a better chance or threatened to create his own competition:

Plaintiff then prepared for the [ND] Alliance board a draft grant application with a core program and budget identical to the program and budget in the 2005 grant application the [NGS] Foundation had deferred and addressed the New Guidelines requirements by offering to work with NGS to modify the Bee so girls would have [**8] an equal opportunity to win and so the Bee would better address the National Geography Standards, but that if NGS did not want to change the Bee, then the [ND] Alliance would design its own statewide student geography competition with the goals of entering into competition with the Bee and eventually replacing the Bee as North Dakota’s primary statewide student geography competition. . . .

Here is how U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland rejected the underlying claim:

The Court finds as a matter of law that an alleged failure by females to win the national geography bee as often as males neither establishes nor supports a Title IX violation. Title IX neither guarantees nor suggests that females must win as often as males. Clausen has failed to allege any facts to establish that he was engaged in a protected activity, nor has he presented any facts or legal authority to support the premise that males winning a national geography bee more often than females supports a Title IX violation.

The Eighth Circuit upheld the ruling.

Clausen insists that the “NGS knows and has known since the Bee competitions began that Bee competitions do not provide girls with an equal opportunity to participate in the higher-level competitions.” He notes that only 2 out of the 54 state winners in 2009 were girls and only one girl advanced in 2010.

I am not sure how the competition is supposed to correct this program other than having separate competitions for boys and girls to guarantee that one of the two finalists with always be a girl –even if there are boys who can answer more geography questions. If there are too few girls able to make the finals, the solution would appear to be found in programs to encourage girls to compete in greater numbers. However, that does not make the competition itself discriminatory or violative of IX which mandates that

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”

There is no denial on the basis of gender when children are asked the same geographic questions.

Source: Jamestown Sun found on Reddit

Jonathan Turley

44 thoughts on “Where Do You Find Gender Discrimination? Professor Says It Is The National Geographic Bee”

  1. Woosty

    We are trying to explain a phenomenon which has been repeated time and time again, not just in the area of the NGB. The article says that there are ‘slight’ differences between what boys and girls know about geography. Another source says that male and female brains are ‘essentially the same’. These statements are not inconsistent with boys winning most of the time. All too often, critics dismiss the idea of biological differences by saying or implying that those putting this notion forward believe that boys are all geniuses and girls have difficulty tying up their shoelaces. The point that I am making is that if one group has a small biological advantage, the effect of this will be magnified many times at the very top end of the ability scale. This top end will be populated predominantly by members of that particular group and, although their advantage may be small, it is sufficient for them to prevail in a competitive situation the great majority of the time.

    If anyone disagrees with me, could they please be specific about what social barriers exist preventing girls from competing at an equal level. Prof clausen clearly believes they exist, but, if he could identify them, it would be more constructive for him to have a dialogue with NG to see how the competition could be changed. Alternatively, if the social barriers are erected by society discouraging girls from trying to attain the necessary level of excellence, it may be difficult to change them, but Prof Clausen could at least let us know wht he thinks they are.

  2. So, the girls are all extremely good -as good as most of the boys, but there is nearly always a boy who is just that little bit better.
    nonsense. Your statement is too general to be anything but nonsense…..

  3. There is likely to be a biological difference between the boys and the girls. This difference is likely to be very small in absolute terms, but, in a competitive situation where you are finding the very best, a very small edge is all it needs to win consistently. So, the girls are all extremely good -as good as most of the boys, but there is nearly always a boy who is just that little bit better.

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