Title IX ‘godmother’ to visit BGSU

 
         
Bernice Sandler

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Women attempting to pursue careers in science, engineering and math have historically experienced a “chilly climate” that discouraged them from persevering, in addition to real employment barriers. Now, Bowling Green State University is part of a $1 million National Science Foundation-funded IDEAL (Institutions Developing Excellence in Academic Leadership) partnership grant aimed at fostering a better environment for recruiting, retaining and advancing women and underrepresented minority faculty in those disciplines.

BGSU will get some expert guidance in its effort from Dr. Bernice Sandler, known as the “godmother of Title IX,” the part of the 1972 Education Amendments that prohibits gender-based discrimination at all educational institutions receiving federal funds. She is spending a day on campus May 4 to talk about issues related to gender equity in the STEM (science, engineering, math and technology) areas.

Sandler will participate in a public panel discussion of “The Role of Title IX in Expanding Faculty Opportunities in STEM Disciplines,” from 10:30 a.m. to noon in 201 Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

Sandler will also address Faculty Senate at 2:30 p.m. in the McFall Center Assembly Room. In addition, the BGSU Women’s Center will host an informal “Brown Bag with Bunny” from noon-1 p.m. May 5 in 107 Hanna Hall.

“She will give us some ideas on how to go about helping women to envision themselves as scientists,” said Dr. Janet Parks, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus in human movement, sport and leisure studies. Parks interviewed Sandler extensively for a documentary on Title IX produced by WBGU-PBS. “She can help people recognize instances of the ‘chilly climate’ and recognize inequities we aren’t yet aware of, and offer concrete steps to discover and eliminate inequities. She inspires you to do what you need to do to make it happen.”

Now the Senior Scholar in Residence at the Women’s Research and Education Institute and an adjunct associate faculty member at the Drexel School of Medicine, Sandler has spent her career advocating for equality in education and women’s rights in general.

“She’s changed our culture—not just for women but for everybody,” Parks said.

The world Sandler faced when she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland in 1969 was not welcoming to female academics. She fought to enforce an executive order from President Lyndon Johnson that prohibited sex discrimination in organizations that received federal contracts.

Sandler filed sex discrimination complaints against 250 institutions under this executive order. With Rep. Edith Green, she went on to spearhead hearings that documented discrimination in employment and educational opportunities. These hearings led to the passage of Title IX and other laws eliminating overt discrimination in education.

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(Posted April 27, 2010 )