Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex for students and employees in all educational institutions that receive federal financial aid.
AAUW gathers representatives from 12 national educational organizations for a conference at the AAUW Educational Center. The group writes and publishes a joint statement on gender equity in admissions, financial aid, recruitment of women, and hiring and salaries. AAUW wants the statement to serve as the basis for government standards for how to implement Title IX, which passed just a few months earlier.
In the October 1972 AAUW Journal, Ruth Oltman writes, “Only when each college and university commits itself to making the necessary changes to ensure quality education and equality of employment, regardless of sex, will it be possible for women to become truly productive human beings.”
The November 1973 issue of the AAUW Journal focuses on education, the “quiet revolution in the 1970s.” In her article, “Women in Higher Education: A Progress Report,” Bernice Sandler, director of the Program on the Status and Education of Women at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, writes, “Despite the academic myth that things have been getting better for women, the position of women on the campus is not very different from what it was 20 or 30 years ago, and in some ways it is worse.”
The AAUW Committee on Standards for Women in Higher Education gears up to review government guidelines for implementing Title IX once they are issued and to reply with recommendations from its members. It also announces a commitment to resurvey all 454 institutions included in the Campus 1970 survey to assess progress made in the preceding four years.
AAUW holds a conference about graduate and professional education for women. Eighty women educators attended the meeting at the AAUW Educational Center and hear Rep. Patsy Mink (D-HI) speak on the importance of addressing discrimination through the legal system. “If you would really [like to] achieve change, don’t bark — bite!” she says.
AAUW President Anne Campbell and General Director Alice Beeman issue a statement to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Caspar Weinberger, with recommended considerations for drafting Title IX regulations. AAUW addresses the concern that its own programs, such as fellowships and grants, while beneficial to women, might be considered discriminatory under the proposed regulations because they are only offered only to women. “It is ironic that this organization, which has so long sought to upgrade the status of women, now faces, by reason of certain proposed regulations for the administration of Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, a possible threat to the continued existence of some of its most affirmative policies and programs,” they write.
AAUW proposes an exception clause for programs that enhance opportunities for women.
AAUW leads a coalition of 15 women’s and educational organizations to meet with Secretary Weinberger. Specific areas of concern include the needs for adequate enforcement of Title IX and to distribute information on the law to organizations, colleges, and schools. The group points out that the law, three years into its existence, is still without enforceable regulations: “Educational institutions need to know now what they must do to be in compliance with the federal law. Women and girls need this regulation now.” This coalition is the basis for what would later become the National Coalition of Women and Girls in Education (NCWGE).
AAUW members and staff create a Title IX action guide sponsored by the AAUW Committee on Women to instruct local branch members on how to monitor the implementation of Title IX in their communities. The manual describes the law and the compliance process and provides compliance forms. It is the first step toward branch members conducting evaluations of schools, colleges, and universities in their communities. Through this branch monitoring project, AAUW makes its contribution to implementing federal legislation on the local level. Courageous members visit colleges and universities to inquire about sex discrimination and administrative awareness of Title IX. They are greeted with a wide variety of responses — from outright defiance to complete participation.
As the government strives to ensure compliance with Title IX, Grove City College in Pennsylvania refuses to abide by the law. The case eventually goes to the U.S. Supreme Court. The argument is over whether the legislation should be applied only to those programs that receive federal funds or to the entire institution regardless of where federal funds are used. AAUW supports a broad interpretation of Title IX and joins an amicus curiae brief filed by NCWGE to fight against what would be a terrible blow to the original purpose of Title IX.
“Women will lose much of what they have gained in the 11 years since Title IX was enacted if the government’s position in the Grove City College case is upheld by the Supreme Court,” says AAUW President Mary Purcell.
In the end, the court rules in favor of Grove City College, and Title IX is severely weakened. AAUW again has to gear up for action!
AAUW rallies alongside other organizations and members of Congress to support the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988. It takes four years to restore Title IX to its original intent. The law passes in 1988 despite a presidential veto, and Title IX again applies to all an institution’s programs even if only a part of the institution receives federal funds.