Listen: Her Rejection Led to a Sex Discrimination Ban

Listen: Her Rejection Led to a Sex Discrimination Ban

Bernice "Bunny" Sandler

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Why you should care

Teacher Bunny Sandler’s employment woes led to a landmark law that resonates today.

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Title IX, the law that banned sex discrimination in U.S. education, was signed by President Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972. It was a truly historic piece of legislation, but nobody really noticed. The New York Times covered the passage of the broader education bill, one that also dealt with hot-button issues like busing and financial aid, but it devoted just a single bullet point to the provision outlawing sex discrimination. A single sentence.

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Dr. Bernice “Bunny” Sandler.

Source Getty Images

Although few people took note at the time, thanks to Title IX, a new era in America had begun. And today, nearly half a century later, it is impossible not to notice the impact of Title IX, and of its proponents like Bernice “Bunny” Sandler. Sandler, who died earlier this year, became known as “the godmother of Title IX.” And for good reason. Getting a bill banning sex discrimination through a nearly all-male Congress — one that did not think sex discrimination was really a problem — was a remarkable feat.

Sandler’s quest to end sex discrimination originated in her own rejection. After she earned her doctorate from the University of Maryland, Sandler was not considered for any of seven open teaching positions at her own institution. Why? She was told she came on “too strong for a woman.” Sandler went home and cried. Then she showed just how strong a woman she was.

This week on The Thread, a podcast from OZY, we cover the story of Bunny Sandler and some of the others behind the passage of Title IX, a law that, among other things, spawned a generation of female athletes who continue to inspire and change the world today.

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