Department of Education opens investigation into Stanford for bias against male students

Dec. 1, 2022, 1:03 a.m.

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating Stanford for alleged bias against its male students, Forbes reported Wednesday.

The complaint, which was filed by University of Southern California emeritus professor James Moore and Kursat Pekgoz, CEO of Turkish real estate company Doruk, alleges that multiple Stanford programs violate Title IX, a federal civil rights law that protects people from sex-based discrimination in education programs that receive federal funds.

The Department of Education opened an investigation this month into five of the University’s programs geared toward women — Stanford Women in Business, Women of Stanford Law, Stanford Women in Design, Stanford Society of Women Engineers and the Gabilan Provost’s Discretionary Fund — according to Forbes.

The Daily has reached out to the University, Stanford Women in Business, Women of Stanford Law, Stanford Women in Design, Stanford Society of Women Engineers and the Department of Education for comment.

The investigation follows a claim filed against Stanford by Moore and Pekgoz regarding 27 Stanford programs, Forbes reported.

Stanford is not the only institution to be the subject of such an investigation. Scholarships, awards and other programs geared toward women have become the target of a handful of  people such as Pekgoz who have filed complaints against a number of higher education institutions.

Pekgoz has also filed other Title IX complaints against universities such as University of California, Santa Cruz. That complaint resulted in UC Santa Cruz extending its Marilyn C. Davis scholarship to both male and female students. The scholarship was previously limited to mothers returning to receive education in the sciences at the university, according to Forbes.

Pekgoz also filed a Title IX complaint against USC and Yale in January and April 2018, respectively, according to the Daily Trojan. The Department of Education has since opened investigations into both schools. 

Moore and Pekgoz told The Daily that by including  programs for female students, the University is discriminating against male students — and violating Title IX — by not providing them with the same support. The two said the programs identified in the complaint continue “ongoing and systematic” discrimination against men.

“The plain language of Title IX prohibits any institution from funding/sponsoring discriminatory scholarships, programs, fellowships and initiatives,” Moore wrote. 

While historically, women have been marginalized in many fields, especially in STEM, Moore said that women now compose an increasing majority of college students nationwide. Moore cited statistics that women make up the majority of medical and law students and argued that historical marginalization is irrelevant to the requirements of Title IX. 

“Title IX applies to the present, not the past, does not apply field by field [and] applies across the board to men and women both,” Moore wrote. “There are bound to be some differences in the way men and women participate across different fields, but women are not merely well represented overall.”

Moore said he hopes to see Stanford open up the programs and opportunities that are currently available for women to both men and women, or completely retire them. 

“We want to remind everyone involved that Title IX is intended to support and protect the well-being of men and women both,” Moore wrote.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

Judy N. Liu '26 is the Academics desk editor for News and staff writer at The Daily.

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