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Neena Chaudhry, Senior Counsel and Director of Equal Opportunities in Athletics

Neena Chaudhry is Senior Counsel and Director of Equal Opportunities in Athletics. Her work centers on litigation and advocacy to enforce and protect Title IX, primarily in the areas of athletics and sexual harassment. Prior to joining NWLC in 1997 as a Georgetown Women's Law and Public Policy Fellow, Neena clerked for the Honorable Michael Daly Hawkins of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She is a graduate of Yale Law School and the University of Maryland at College Park.

My Take

Another Birthday, Another Attack on Title IX

Title IX is 42 years old this week.  The law, which forced open the doors to education for women and girls, is well known for its impact in sports.  Even though many girls across the country still don’t receive equal opportunities to play sports [PDF], opponents of Title IX say the law has gone far

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Families Succeed When Women Have Equal Access to Nontraditional Jobs

On Monday I attended the White House Summit on Working Families. The Summit brought together business leaders, advocates, and workers to talk about the challenges faced by working parents and how we can address them. It was both sad and inspiring to hear President Obama talk about the need for paid family leave, high-quality and affordable childcare, workplace flexibility, and decent wages for a hard day’s work. These are things a great country like ours should already have, and yet it’s clear that we all have to work together to push for these changes. Too many women are living paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to take a day off to stay with a sick child or care for a family member. 

I was especially happy to hear the President talk about the need for more women and people of color in nontraditional jobs, especially the STEM fields. For example, we know that despite making up almost half of workers in all occupations (47 percent), women are only 2.6 percent of workers in construction and extraction occupations. This underrepresentation negatively affects women’s income, as traditionally male fields pay higher wages and have a lower wage gap than those dominated by women. That’s why our new report, Women in Construction: Still Breaking Ground, is so important. More must be done to reverse this trend and bring the construction industry into the 21st century.

The President agrees. In conjunction with the Summit, the White House released a fact sheet that outlines how federal agencies and Congress can help:

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We Need More Women in Hard Hats

When you think of a construction worker, what image comes to mind? Chances are you think of a man, and that’s no surprise. Women are only 2.6% of all construction workers, and that number is the same as it was 30 years ago. Our new report, Women in Construction: Still Breaking Ground delves into some of the reasons why women are so underrepresented in construction and what can be done about it.

Despite women’s increasing share of other male-dominated jobs—such as sheriffs, police detectives, and firefighters—the numbers of women in construction have barely budged. The roadblocks women faces to entering the construction field have serious economic consequences for them and their families, especially given that construction jobs typically offer women the opportunity to earn higher wages. The median hourly wage for construction occupations is about double the median wage for female-dominated occupations such as home health aides and child care workers.

One major obstacle is the persistent harassment and hostility that women face in construction. According to a U.S. Department of Labor study, 88 percent of female construction workers face sexual harassment on the job.

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Alert the Media: Women Play Basketball Too

It’s March Madness time, but if you only read the papers, you wouldn’t know that women are even playing basketball. Last weekend when I was on vacation, I picked up a USA Today and in the entire sports section, there was not one mention of any women’s games. It’s as though the women’s tournament doesn’t exist. The NYT Public Editor’s Journal blog recently bemoaned the lack of coverage of the women’s tournament as well. In general, women receive only about 6-8% of the total newspaper sports coverage. Coverage on TV is also far from equal, but I suppose we should be grateful that ESPN is at least broadcasting most games in the women’s tournament.

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Unsafe Spaces: Sexual Harassment and Violence Are Plaguing our Nation’s Schools

Posted by Neena Chaudhry, Senior Counsel and Director of Equal Opportunities in Athletics | Posted on: November 21, 2013 at 12:11 pm

After leaving a homecoming dance, a high school girl was brutally raped. Other students photographed the rape but never reported it to police or school officials. Other girls in the school said they felt unsafe and avoided school activities. An employee at the school watched female students change clothes in the bathroom and inappropriately touched them. He was merely reprimanded and allowed to serve as the assistant girls’ basketball coach the next year. Middle school students in the district routinely faced physical and verbal harassment in front of teachers--including grabbing of breasts and genitals and calling male students “faggot” if they weren’t stereotypically masculine. The teachers often failed to report the harassment, let alone address it.

These incidents are actual findings from a recent Department of Education Title IX investigation of a school district in California. And they are not isolated examples, but reflect a widespread problem facing our nation’s schools and colleges. The pattern is all too familiar. A student is sexually assaulted or harassed, the school doesn’t respond appropriately, so the student faces escalating harassment, often both at school and online, and ends up feeling like she has no place to hide, no place where she is safe.

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