Bernice Resnick Sandler (born 1928) is an American women's rights activist who was instrumental in the creation of Title IX (a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972, also named the "Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act" after its House co-author). Sandler was called “the godmother of Title IX” by the New York Times. She has also worked on issues of sexual and peer harassment towards women on campuses, coining the term "the chilly campus climate" and writing extensively about the subject. She is currently a Senior Scholar at the Women's Research and Education Institute in Washington, D.C.
Passage of Title IX
In 1967, Executive Order 11375 was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. This Executive Order added the category "sex" to the anti-discrimination provisions covered in Johnson's earlier Executive Order 11246 of September 24, 1965, which addressed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. This Executive Order provided the basis for the federal government's investigation of the hiring practices of more than 2,000 colleges and universities. In 1969, Sandler used the executive order to help her fight sex discrimination at the University of Maryland. She was a part-time lecturer at the University of Maryland, and had applied for a tenure-track job but was rejected. When she asked one of her friends on the faculty why she was rejected, he said, "Well let's face it, you come on too strong for a woman." She continued to apply for jobs and got two more rejections, including being told, “You’re not really a professor, just a housewife who went back to school.” She got on the short list three times, but didn’t get the job.
Sandler began working with NOW and Women's Equity Action League (WEAL), the latter of which she was volunteering at, to file complaints against the University of Maryland, and in the end a total of 268 other colleges and universities. She commented: "After all, there are no federal laws dealing with sex discrimination. That's why we are forcing the issue by filing complaints under the terms of the executive order." Sandler explained that she had come upon the Executive Order accidentally:
I was reading the 1965 Executive order and happened to see an asterisk. Since I am an academic person, I read the footnote and saw that the order was amended in 1968 [sic] to include women. A eureka-like alarm went off in my head and within months we filed charges against the University of Maryland.
In 1970, Sandler joined Representative Edith Green's Subcommittee on Higher Education and sat in on the Congressional hearings where women's rights were discussed. In these hearings Green and Sandler first suggested what would become Title IX. Green and Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink wrote up the first draft.
As part of the fight to get Title IX passed, in 1970 Sandler became the first person to testify before the U.S. Congress about gender discrimination in education. She then became the first person appointed to the staff of a Congressional committee specifically for issues concerning women's rights. In 1971, working with the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, she wrote the first federal policy report regarding sex discrimination in education, as part of a larger report prepared by the Women's Action Program. As a result of these efforts, she was appointed to chair the first federal Advisory Committee on Women's Educational Equity in 1975.
Title IX was signed into law on June 23, 1972 by President Richard Nixon.
Work on campus climate and harassment
Sandler also coined the term "gang rape" and wrote the first report on campus gang rape. She also wrote the first report on peer harassment in the classroom, the first report examining the process and procedures used to nominate and award campus prizes that she thought inadvertently excluded women, and the first report providing search committees with questions to determine how supportive potential faculty or administrative members were of gender equality.
In 1982, she wrote the first report on what she called the chilly campus climate, a term she coined to describe how she thought small unknown behaviors can have a detrimental impact on women's ambition, contribution, and self-esteem. In 1989 and 1990, she wrote the first reports on the chilly climate she thought was faced specifically by African American and Hispanic women at colleges and universities.
She is featured in the 2012 documentary Sporting Chance: The Lasting Legacy of Title IX.
Education and work
Inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame in 2010.
Inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2013.
Over ten honorary doctorates.
- Student-to-Student Sexual Harassment K-12: Strategies and Solutions for Educators to Use in the Classroom, School, and Community, with Harriet M. Stonehill (2005). Rowman & Littlefield Education, ISBN 1578862612
- "10 Ways Expert Witnesses Can be Used in Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Cases" (1997)
- Sexual Harassment on Campus: A Guide for Administrators, Faculty and Students, editor with Robert J. Shoop (1996). Allyn and Bacon, ISBN 0205167128.
- The Chilly Classroom Climate: A Guide to Improve the Education of Women, with others (1996). National Assn. for Women in Education.
- Educator's guide to controlling sexual harassment, with Michele Antoinette Paludi (1993). Thompson Pub. Group.
- Success and survival strategies for women faculty members (1992). Association of American Colleges.
- Teaching faculty members to be better teachers : a guide to equitable and effective classroom techniques, with Ellen Hoffman (1992). Association of American Colleges.
- "Bernice Resnick Sandler ISNI record". Retrieved August 17, 2013.
- "The Real Story Behind the Passage of Title IX 35 Years Ago". Women in Higher Education.
- Valentin, Iram. “Title IX: A Brief History.” Women's Equity Resource Center. August 1997. http://www2.edc.org/WomensEquity/pdffiles/t9digest.pdf
- Murray, "Economic and Educational Inequality," 272-3
- New York Times: Nancy Hicks, "Women on College Faculties are Pressing for Equal Pay and Better Positions in Academic Hierarchy," November 21, 1971, accessed March 24, 2012
- “Title IX: A Brief History.” AAUW. 2009.http://www.aauw.org/advocacy/laf/lafnetwork/library/AthleticsHistory.cfm.
- "Bernice R. Sandler, Ed.D.: Maryland Women's Hall of Fame". Maryland State Archives. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- “Legislative History of Title IX” National Organization for Women. June 27, 2007.
- "Maryland Women's Hall of Fame". Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- "National Women's Hall of Fame". Retrieved November 1, 2013.
- Kiernan, Denise (2001). "The little law that could". Ms. 11.2. pp. 18–25. - history of Title IX and Sandler's involvement
- Sandler, Bernice Resnick (2007). "Title IX: How We Got It and What a Difference it Made". Cleveland State Law Review 55 (4). pp. 473–489.
- "We've Come a Long Way, Baby, but not far enough: Progress and Problems of Women in Higher Education", 2013 lecture by Sandler
- Papers of Bernice Resnick Sandler, 1963-2008. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.