Before the passage of Title IX in 1972, equality in US education didn’t exist. Sex-based discrimination, which reigned across the entire educational landscape of the US, kept young women from accessing a number of academic and financial aid opportunities.
Everything changed with the introduction of Title IX, which improved girls’ access to opportunities in the educational world. Young women were now able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with boys, even in the fields previously considered to be exclusively boys’ dominions.
It was a hallmark achievement to end gender discrimination in education, which should not have existed in the first place. Girls were now taking the courses they wanted, were earning more degrees and becoming professors, and were making major strides in sports and athletics.
To end gender discrimination in US education, Title IX was passed as a federal civil rights law under the Education Amendments of 1972. By providing girls and boys with equal access to academic programs and federal financial assistance, Title IX put a much-needed end to sex-based bias that had long existed in the US educational system.
According to Title IX, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
The law couldn’t be clearer and more explicit. The stage was now set for big changes to take place in the US, as well as a global, educational system. Today, Title IX is vigorously enforced by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) which evaluates, investigates, and resolves complaints alleging sex discrimination.
As discussed above, academic opportunities were restricted for girls and young women prior to Title IX. With limited options to choose from and poor access to financial aid options, they weren’t able to reach their true potential which also hampered their active socio-economic participation.
No one describes the life before Title IX better than Barbara Winslow, historian, and teacher at Brooklyn College. She says:
“Young women were not admitted into many colleges and universities, athletic scholarships for women were rare, and math and science was a realm reserved for boys. Girls square danced instead of playing sports, studied home economics instead of training for “male-oriented” (read: higher-paying) trades.”
“Girls could become teachers and nurses, but not doctors or principals; women rarely were awarded tenure and even more rarely appointed college presidents. There was no such thing as sexual harassment because “boys will be boys,” after all, and if a student got pregnant, her formal education ended. Graduate professional schools openly discriminated against women.”
Title IX brought a profound transformation in the education sphere of the US. Young women not only had access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, they were starting to make their mark in the fields.
They were becoming more empowered now, knowing their rights and duties for a more active socio-economic contribution. Equipped with robust education, women were now entering the domains that were traditionally thought to belong to men.
Some of the most profound changes that Title IX caused are listed below.
Academic opportunities for girls were not limited to just home economics-type traditionally stereotyped programs. Both men and women could now enroll in a program of their choice. Today, women can sign up for courses in engineering, plumbing, welding, etc. that have been traditionally associated with men. Men, on the other hand, can also become nurses, teachers, and more.
Thanks to Title IX, women’s access to Federal Financial Assistance opportunities was finally unblocked. They were now as eligible for financial aid for education as their male counterparts. This heralded an era of true equality enabling girls who couldn’t afford quality education to access good academic programs and improve their participation in science and technology.
As Ms. Barbara Winslow put it, sexual harassment and open discrimination against girls were common across the US educational institutions prior to the passage of Title IX. Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) vigorously enforces Title IX to ensure no sexual discrimination or harassment takes place in any institution.
Title IX also brought about equality in extra-curricular activities and sports. Girls were now actively partaking in sports and activities that were previously dominated by boys. They also made major strides in increasing female participation in athletics. Surely, it was a slow start, with fewer than 30,000 women participating in college sports in 1971-1972.
Educational institutions across the US, especially the ones that receive Federal funds, are required to fully comply with Title IX and ensure its vigorous enforcement at all times. Besides ensuring equal academic opportunities, the Title IX law governs how an educational institution handles cases of sexual harassment and ensures transparent and fair investigations.
In a broader scope, Title IX compliance includes procedures for an academic institution’s students, employees, and volunteers related to institutional action in cases of Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking, Retaliation, and other forms of violence or discrimination.
To be Title IX compliant, academic institutions must also ensure students’ equal access to admissions and financial aid, academic opportunities, sports and athletics, educational support and career guidance, housing and facilities, employment and training, as well as career advancement. In essence, Title IX compliance aims to create and promote a safe campus.
There are many ways that institutions can improve their Title IX compliance and make the campus safe for all students, teachers, other employees, and volunteers. Sometimes, the institution, on the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), is required to undergo certain institutional reforms to be Title IX compliant.
Some of the ways that educational institutions can make their campuses safe for everyone may include the following:
Title IX coordinators’ primary duties involve prevention and reporting of on-campus discrimination and harassment, as well as compliance with Title IX. So the students, faculty, and staff must also know the coordinators’ duties and authorities and different ways to contact them.
Institutions must also train students to be responsible bystanders and report incidents of misconduct in an appropriate manner. Through this repetitive bystander intervention training, institutions can reduce cases of on-campus discrimination and sexual misconduct by folds.
Institutions must ensure a supportive environment where victims feel comfortable sharing their stories and reporting cases of discrimination or misconduct. They must offer on-campus facilities, services, and resources to address and resolve such issues.
Institutions must educate students on the concepts of consent and incapacitation. They should be thoroughly taught what these terms mean and how they can stay safe while on campus and beyond. The role of alcohol and drugs in sexual violence must also be taught.
Everyone should be engaged in the process of improving an institution’s Title IX compliance. Students, faculty, staff, women’s centers, student centers, and associations should all become a part of the practice using all resources and communication tools available at hand.
One of the important Title IX compliance conditions for federally funded colleges and universities is that they are bound to investigate all incidents and reports of gender-based discrimination. Hence, no case of gender bias, harassment or assault, stalking, or any other gender-based harm can go unheeded by the school and must be thoroughly investigated.
But since it’s mostly a matter of the institution’s policy violation, these investigations may take place independently, i.e. without legal involvement. It’s the prerogative of the institution to determine whether the incident violated the school policy or the law; in the prior case, the school can run an independent investigation, whereas in the latter case, law enforcement may be involved.
Every federally funded educational institution must have a formal process in place for reporting, investigating, and resolving matters related to Title IX violations. The failure to do so and fix the discriminatory environment can very well mean the discontinuation of federal funding.
Here’s how a Title IX investigation is typically conducted:
Loss of federal funding is a huge problem for educational institutions. So the institution must have a dedicated Title IX Coordinator who is accessible and works constantly for the school’s Title IX compliance.
All academic institutions that are federally funded are required to distribute notice of non-discrimination, explicitly stating their position on gender-based discrimination in all academic and extra-curricular activities.
It’s a legal requirement for all federally funded institutions to create different reporting mechanisms and inform students, staff, parents, and unions how they can report a Title IX violation easily, swiftly, and without any fear.
The school’s Title IX office, which usually comprises an on-campus Title IX Coordinator, will notify the parties involved in the reported case. These parties will be notified that a case exists and investigations are set to begin.
The next step in the investigation process is the collection of proof and information related to the accusation. These facts may be in the shape of text or call records, audio or video recordings, documents, social media posts, etc.
Once the required information is gathered, its veracity must be established to ensure that the investigation is fair and transparent. All evidence must be thoroughly examined to determine if a violation actually took place.
Based on the information, the school may determine whether or not a Title IX violation took place. Usually, a separate decision-maker, who has not been a part of the investigation, makes this call to ensure a fair and transparent process.
Finally, the parties involved are notified of the outcomes by the school. A copy of the final investigation report, containing allegations, violated policy, evidence, and other information, is shared with each party in advance to give them an opportunity to respond.
Once the investigative report is ready and shared with the parties involved, either party can request an administrative review. Higher-level management will get involved and look into the allegations, evidence, and the original decision. After the review, a written decision will be formed and outcomes will be explained.
In cases where no appeal is made by the parties involved, sanctions will be determined by the decision-makers for the perpetrators. The Title IX Coordinator will then arrange support services for the victim and may pass the case to law enforcement.
Management of Title IX violations can be cumbersome, leaving coordinators and case managers overworked, and sometimes clueless. Plus, the inefficiencies caused by the conventional case management protocols may always leave gaps in Title IX violations, reporting, investigations, and resolutions.
There are plenty of case management solutions available today that can make Title IX case management efficient, fast, and dependable. This software offers a state-of-the-art, 360-degree Title IX compliance, violation reporting, and resolution solution in a single program.
From raising awareness about non-discrimination to swift reporting of gender-based discrimination, and to thorough investigations and outcomes, these solutions cut a tedious process to mere taps and clicks, reducing gaps from Title IX case management and making the task easier and effective for institutions and their Title IX Coordinators.