Office for Civil Rights helped, hindered Title IX

Republican and Democratic Administrations have different track records for Office of Civil Rights enforcement of Title IX. (The OCR is part of the Executive Branch.) Three videos in this blog — with former OCR officials Martin Gerry, Cindy Brown, and Deborah Ashford — give a taste of that divide from the 1970s under the Nixon, Ford, and Carter Administrations. After Title IX became law in 1972, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) had to write regulations to implement the law. That’s standard procedure, usually accomplished in a matter of months for many laws, but the Nixon and Ford […]

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Lobbyists, Congressional staff influenced Title IX

[Videos feature Judy Norrell, former lobbyist for the League of Women Voters, and Barbara Dixon, former staff person for Sen. Birch Bayh.] Title IX wasn’t just an act of Congress, nor did it come simply from the demands of women’s activist organizations. There’s plenty of overlap between insiders and outsiders in Washington, D.C. and varying degrees of insider- or outsider-ness depending on the person and the situation. Women were small in number compared with men working in the nation’s capitol in the 1970s, which made it easier, in some ways, to find each other and collaborate as both insiders and outsiders. Female […]

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Women’s rights, minority rights inseparable

VIDEO: Francelia Gleaves (now McKindra) not only was one of the first people to work at length on Title IX issues in the 1970s, she was one of the few African Americans doing this work. To her mind, minorities’ civil rights and women’s rights were inseparable, though not everyone felt that way, she says in this 2015 interview. A lot was happening on both fronts at that time. White America still was slow to adjust to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which, by the way, failed to prohibit discrimination based on sex in some of its provisions, hence the need […]

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Legal muscle behind Title IX still flexing

The Chicago Public School District just got its sports programs schooled by a Hall of Famer. Not a sports star, mind you, but Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center. (Video: Greenberger describes her reasons for pursuing legal justice for women.) Chicago has agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights resulting from a complaint filed by the Center in 2010 claiming that the city denies girls the sports opportunities it gives to boys. As a result, the District will have to create roughly 6,000 more opportunities for girls to engage in sports, affecting most of […]

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Men fought (and fight) for Title IX too

From 93-year-old Vincent Macaluso to young men on college campuses today, a long line of male allies to women helped bring us Title IX and are fighting to uphold its principles of fairness. (Video: The Godfather of Title IX) While we wouldn’t have this essential law without all the uppity women who pushed for it, let’s take a moment on this 43rd anniversary of President Nixon signing Title IX (June 23, 1972) to recognize its forefathers, in a week when the nation also celebrates Father’s Day. Much of the momentum leading up to Title IX came from a slew of […]

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Too [fill in the blank] for a woman

Whatever you think of the outcome of Ellen Pao’s lawsuit claiming sex discrimination at the famed Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, a tactic used by the company’s defense team could make one cringe — character assassination. (Video: Bernice Sandler, who was “too strong for a woman.”) Telling a woman that she is too exacting, too condescending, too abrasive, too strong, too weak,  too whatever to be hired, promoted, etc. is an age-old excuse used countless times to deny women opportunities that might be offered to a man who has the same qualities. (Speaking generally now, not specifically about Pao’s […]

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Video history from women behind Title IX

Eleven of the women most closely involved in the struggle to implement Title IX gathered on January 26, 2015 to give a living history of this most important legislation for U.S. women since the right to vote. Focusing mainly on the early years after its passage in 1972, they also shared their fears that Title IX’s hard-won gains could be lost if people don’t remain vigilant in supporting it. I’m thankful to Margaret Dunkle for organizing the luncheon at the Woman’s National Democratic Club and for including me as I research my book on the people behind Title IX.

Fresno tied to Title IX over decades

Video: Bernice Sandler coaches Women’s Studies students and faculty who are trying to improve policies at the California State University, Fresno, in November 2014. People all over the United States have links to Title IX. I’m enjoying seeing the fingers of this important law poke up in some unexpected places as I research its history and today’s in-the-news developments. Among them: Fresno, California, which appears often enough that it serves as an example of nearly every phase of Title IX. For example, Frederick W. Ness was president of Fresno State College just before becoming president of the Association of American Colleges and […]

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Name it to change it

(Video: Title IX expert Bernice Sandler on why words matter.) We swim in a sea of cultural assumptions. Norms surround us like the air we breathe, scarcely noticeable until we find them toxic, and then hard to explain to someone who isn’t feeling their poisonous effects. Parting the sea, cleaning the air of sexist assumptions takes time and effort, and even the cleaners may feel residual toxic effects. Women from the early history of Title IX have described to me insecurities from internalizing the sexism around them in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Bernice Sandler initially believed a colleague when he told […]

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