AAUW Panel Recounts Past and Current Struggles with Title IX | Community

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The Los Altos/Mountain View branch of the American Association of University Women, along with members of the seven branches of the AAUW’s Santa Clara County Inter-Branch Council, celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX at a Zoom webinar on March 19.

Title IX, a provision of the Federal Education Amendment Act passed in June 1972, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in schools or educational programs that accept federal aid. Supporting Title IX in Action is a mission goal for AAUW.

The webinar, “Title IX: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You,” drew over 100 viewers. Danielle Slaton, U.S. women’s soccer Olympic medalist and soccer TV analyst for the San Jose Earthquakes, moderated the panel, noting that she was “a Title IX baby, as universities were just starting to respond Title IX requirements” when she attended Santa Clara University. . The panelists included three generations of women who have been active in Title IX enforcement.

Marion Sacco, Morgan Hill AAUW Branch President, opened the program with a brief review of how AAUW’s mission and research have historically supported the advancement of women, beginning with a study over of 100 years revealing that college attendance does not in fact affect a woman’s fertility. Since then, AAUW has studied issues related to girls and women in STEM classrooms and professions, bullying in schools, and equal pay.

Marlene Bjornsrud, co-founder of the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, provided an introduction and brief history of Title IX and its effects.

“We stand on the shoulders of the women who came before us,” Bjornsrud said, “but we still have to fight for fairness in sport. The law is 50 years old, but its enforcement is federally dependent and varies from one administration to another.

According to Bjornsrud, in 1977 the Santa Clara University women’s baseball team wore men’s team uniforms, while the men received new uniforms each year. It wasn’t until last year, she added, that the NCAA made a commitment to give the women’s basketball finals the same level of support as the men’s March Madness tournament.

“We must wake up, stand up and speak out when we see iniquity in action,” she said.

Obstacles to success

Akilah Carter-Francique, associate professor in the Department of African American Studies at San Jose State University and executive director of the school’s Institute for the Study of Sport, Society, and Social Change , explained how Title IX Black, Indigenous, and People of Color came under Title IX.

Sport has always been an area where minority groups are allowed to excel, she said, but there are still barriers for black women. Despite pioneers like Althea Gibson and Simone Biles, sports like tennis, gymnastics, golf and swimming are still “white-collar sports,” Carter-Francique said, accessible to young people with private pools and club memberships. country clubs.

She concluded by urging the audience to “identify what authority you have.”

“How can you change the culture?” Carter-Francique asked.

Academic requirements

Jess Eagle of Equal Rights Advocates pointed out that Title IX protections are not limited to sports. Today, the focus is on sexual harassment and other gender-related issues that impact the ability to study and succeed.

Equal Rights Advocates staff attorney Maha Ibrahim said every school in California must have a Title IX representative and contact information must be posted on each school’s website. However, the requirement has not been strictly enforced and it is not always clear how to contact the representative.

AAUW state advocates support Assembly Bill 1968, which addresses the issue by requiring CSUs and UCs to create a website that standardizes and clarifies available resources and next steps to take immediately after a sexual assault, abuse or harassment on campus. Although current law focuses on giving survivors power over their information to seek justice, information resources for higher education campuses lack clarity and organization, which limits their effectiveness, AAUW representatives say.

Rebecca Sheff of Equal Rights Advocates shared how high school students in San Francisco have used tools like Instagram to organize walkouts on Title IX enforcement.

“We need to listen to young people, who know how to take advantage of new ways of organizing, like Instagram, which allows people to tell their story anonymously without the threat of a libel suit,” she said.

For a recording of the program and a list of Title IX resources, visit the AAUW Morgan Hill Facebook page at tinyurl.com/2p8rbh84.

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