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AWIS in Action! July 2012-Title IX
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 AWIS in Action HeaderAWIS 40th Anniv Logo

AWIS In Action!

 Advocacy & Public Policy Newsletter   ~   July 2012
In This Issue
Making Women’s Participation in Science and Sports Unexceptional
Forty years ago, 37 words changed the opportunities for millions of girls and women in this country. "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” This past month, people gathered to celebrate the anniversary of these words, penned by the Honorable Birch Bayh (D-IN) in 1972, signed into law by President Richard Nixon (the same week Watergate occurred), and known as Title IX. Although Title IX is best known assuring equal access to athletic opportunities for girls and women (one will note that athletics is not specifically addressed in those words), it has also been crucial for opening up the doors to all sorts of professions for women. The comment one perhaps hears most frequently is that before Title IX, women largely became nurses or teachers because those were the only real opportunities available to them unless they were fearless enough to blaze a new trail.
STEM benefits from Title IX by the guarantee of equal access for boys and girls, men and women, to classes and resources to further their education. However, it protects employees as well as students and is designed to ensure equal access to enable everyone to achieve their full potential. Any institution receiving NIH or NSF grants, for example, is required to comply with the rules of Title IX, though many may not realize that. Title IX is enforced through compliance reviews which can be conducted by institution’s Offices of Equal Opportunity Programs. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) produced a great report on how institutions can perform their own self-evaluation to make sure they are compliant.

AWIS attended several different events to commemorate the anniversary. The White House had speakers and two panel discussions with STEM professionals and athletes including Dr. Mae Jemison, the first Chicagoan and woman of color in space, Former Senator Birch Bayh, tennis star Billie Jean King, and Secretary of Education (and former Harvard basketball star) Arne Duncan. They also released a statement regarding the next steps the Administration plans to take towards increasing institutional compliance. American Association of University Women (one of the groups AWIS worked with as part of a coalition to produce a report on Title IX) hosted a briefing on the Hill and a cupcake and champagne celebratory reception. The National Women’s Hall of Fame also hosted an event with a lineup of speakers and panelists including former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, Olympian Michelle Kwan, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Dr. Bernice Sandler, whose discrimination by the University of Maryland set the whole ball rolling to create Title IX.  


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