Fifty Years On, Title IX’s Legacy Includes Its Durability (The New York Times)
It took just 37 words to change the course of education for millions of women and girls in the United States. Yet the succinct language in Title IX, the landmark education law that was signed in 1972, has origins in even fewer characters.
“You come on too strong for a woman.”
That was what Dr. Bernice Sandler was told in 1969 when she applied for a permanent position at the University of Maryland, where she was already an adjunct professor. Three years later — after a class-action lawsuit on behalf of women in higher education and the sly maneuvering of a handful of lawmakers — women were given a means to ensure equal access to education for the first time in American history.
For its sweeping repercussions, Title IX passed with little fanfare, a notable whisper nestled between two other landmark provisions meant to bestow rights to women within a 12-month period: The Equal Rights Amendment and Roe v. Wade. Fifty years later, only one of the three remains standing.
The Equal Rights Amendment, which proposed an explicit guarantee for equal protection for women in the U.S. Constitution, was first proposed in 1923 and approved by the Senate on March 22, 1972. But not enough states ratified it within a 10-year deadline for it to be added.
Title IX was signed by President Richard M. Nixon on June 23, 1972.
“Title IX is excellent — we’re subjects, we’re not objects anymore,” said Dr. Ann Olivarius, one of the lead plaintiffs in the Yale lawsuit and a lawyer specializing in sexual misconduct. “We’re actually participators, we are active narrators of our own life with our bodies and we know that we actually have bodies and we use those bodies.”