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June 23: Bernice Sandler and Title IX

June 23, 2013

img80937President Richard Nixon signed Title IX Education Amendments on this date in 1972, which guaranteed equal access and equal opportunity for females and males in almost all aspects of America’s educational systems, including athletics. Three years earlier, Bernice Resnick Sandler had begun to use an anti-discrimination executive order, issued by President Lyndon Johnson at the urging of the National Organization for Women, to file 269 complaints against colleges and universities that were discriminating against women students and faculty. In 1970, she joined Congresswoman Edith Green to create congressional hearings on women’s rights and then to propose Title IX. The year after its passage, Sandler began a letter-writing campaign to get Jewish women to “counter the campaign by some Jewish men’s groups against affirmative action (notably the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith). Called “the godmother of Title IX” by the New York Times, Sandler also coined the term “gang rape” and wrote the first report about gang rape on college campuses. She also wrote notable papers on the “chilly climate” faced by women, especially African-American and Hispanic women, in higher education. Sandler is today a scholar at the Women’s Research and Education Institute in Washington, DC, and a professor at Drexel University’s College of Medicine. To hear her speak on the subtleties of discrimination, look below.

“I naively thought that since sex discrimination was wrong, there must be a law against it.” —Bernice Sandler