Obama and McCain have answered questions on how they would address the issue of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields if they became president. These are, of course, high-level answers which don't answer important questions about implementation and enforcement, but still give some insight into the candidates' underlying thinking (or lack thereof) on these issues.
Title IX is discussed in a few of the questions (and was previously discussed on this blog). One question asks directly how they would ensure that Title IX is enforced in academia outside of athletics. Obama gives a strong (though extremely vague) statement in favor of enforcing Title IX in STEM disciplines, pointing out that Title IX has worked wonders in athletics and has the potential to similarly impact these fields. McCain agrees that Title IX should be enforced in academic disciplines, but in his answer to this direct question veers off into a discussion of athletics which implies that he doesn't believe that women and men's sports should necessarily get equal funding since some of men's sports might cost more.
Affirmative action also comes up subtly and not so subtly. Obama supports it for women in the sciences while also encouraging programs to help low-income disadvantaged students. McCain opposes affirmative action and says that he will cut any NSF programs which give preference on the basis of sex.
For those of you who are more money focused, here's what Obama has to say about general STEM funding: "Joe Biden and I, however, are strongly committed to doubling basic research budgets over ten years at federal agencies that include the NSF, the Office of Science in the Department of Energy, and the National Institute of Science and Technology." McCain has no equivalent statement.
Perhaps this is my own bias based on my preference for president, but overall Obama's answers were much more thoughtful and thorough. They addressed the issues in a measured and nuanced way, while McCain's answers sidestepped the questions. Even if there were no other issues on the table, and despite the vagueness of many of both of their answers, I'd support Obama after reading this.
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