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Junctures in Women's Leadership: Higher Education illuminates the careers of twelve women leaders whose experiences reveal the complexities of contemporary academic leadership through the intersection of gender, race, and institutional culture. The chapters combine interviews and research to create distinct case studies that identify the obstacles that challenged each woman's leadership, and the strategies deployed to bring about resolution. The research presented in this volume reveals not only theoretical factors of academic leadership, but also real time dynamics that give the reader deeper insights into the multiple stakeholders and situations that require nimble, relationship-based leadership, in addition to intellectual competency. With chapters written by many of today's leading women in higher education, this book brings into sharp focus the unique attributes of women leaders in the academy and adds a new dimension of analysis to the field of women’s leadership studies. Women leaders interviewed in this volume include Bernice Sandler, Juliet Villarreal García, and Johnnetta Betsch Cole.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813586212
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication date: 09/17/2020
Series: Junctures: Case Studies in Women's Leadership Series
Pages: 230
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

CARMEN TWILLIE AMBAR is the president of Oberlin College, Ohio.

CAROL T. CHRIST is chancellor at University of California, Berkeley. 

MICHELE H. OZUMBA is the former president of Women’s College Coalition, a nonprofit membership organization of women’s colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
Too Strong for a Woman: Bernice Sandler and the Birth of Title IX
Leslee A. Fisher

It will take many generations because what we are now talking about is not just increased opportunities for girls and women but about a social revolution with an impact as large as the Industrial Revolution, for we are changing the roles of women and men, so that they are far closer to equal than they have ever been in the history of the world, and that is not easy to do. We have only taken the very first steps of what will be a very long journey.
— Bernice Resnick Sandler, from a speech given at Women Rock: Title IX Academic and Legal Conference at Cleveland State University. March 30, 2007

Bernice Resnick Sandler was born in New York City on March 3, 1928, and grew up in Brooklyn in a family of German and Russian immigrants.[1] To her friends, she’s known as Bunny—a nickname based on the Yiddish version of Bernice or Bunya by translation.[2] In 1948, Sandler graduated cum laude with a BS in psychology from Brooklyn College.[3] In 1950, she obtained a master’s degree in clinical and school psychology from City College of New York. And, in 1960, she completed her EdD in counseling and personnel services from the University of Maryland.  

Before Bernice Resnick Sandler decided to become an activist in the fight against gender discrimination in higher education, she describes how she, like many women during the time of the mid-to-late 1960s, was reluctant to believe that there was such a thing as gender discrimination in the workplace. She also didn’t join the women’s movement because she thought that feminists were “unfeminine,” “radical,” “man-hating,” and “abrasive,” buying into stereotypes produced by the media to dissuade women from engaging in the feminist movement.[4]

Sandler’s illusion of a perfect (e.g., gender-equal) world was shattered in 1969 when she graduated with her doctorate from the University of Maryland. Although already working as a part-time lecturer in the department, she was not seriously considered for any of the seven full-time openings available at the time of her graduation. When she asked a male faculty member why she wasn’t considered for these positions, he stated, “Let’s face it, you come on too strong for a woman.”[5] Sandler went home and cried; further, she recalled how she “blamed myself for speaking up a few times at staff meetings. I blamed myself for discussing professional issues with faculty members. I regretted my participation in classes as a graduate student. In short, I accepted the assessment that I was, indeed, too strong for a woman.”[6]

In the months following this incident, she twice was denied an academic job. As Sandler put it, it felt like there was never a good time to hire a woman in academia.

Number one, I was older; number two, I had children and my children were in school . . . it was . . . a catch-twenty-two because, when you’re younger, they don’t want to hire you because you’ll get married. When you do get married, then they don’t want to hire you because now you’re gonna have children . . . I mean it, there are rationalizations for women all along the job path so that . . . there was really [never] a good time to hire women.[7]

It was through the betrayal of not being hired in an academic position that Sandler began to awaken to the issue of gender discrimination in the workplace. Even though she felt betrayed at first, she decided to do something about the betrayal. As Sandler states,

When things go wrong in my life, I start to read about the problem. I am a great believer in bibliotherapy, so I began to read about the law and sex discrimination, although I had never had the slightest interest in law other than considering a career as a legal secretary for a short time when I was in high school. I naively assumed that because sex discrimination was wrong, it must be, therefore, illegal. It was not.[8]

Sandler’s bibliotherapy included reading the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Fourteenth Amendment.[9] What she discovered was that in all three of these documents, women are excluded. For example, although the Equal Pay Act of 1963 included men who were in professional and executive jobs such as administrators, faculty, and teachers at all educational levels, females were not covered. In addition, although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, and national origin, it specifically excluded educational institution employees “in their educational activities.”[10] This meant that women and girls (including females of color) were not protected in federally assisted programs on the basis of their sex. And, while the Fourteenth Amendment claimed to offer all persons equal protection under the law,[11] it had not been regarded as, in any way, relevant to sex discrimination.

Sandler’s eureka moment came as she was reading a report prepared by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights evaluating the enforcement of civil rights legislation. As she described it, “[W]hat had happened is I started reading about African Americans and how they had gained, were beginning to gain, a lot of freedoms [through] a lot of lawsuits and things were beginning to change. And so, they were like a good role model [to fight sex discrimination].” 

She continued, “And I found a loophole in terms of contract compliance, and that made all the difference.” Further, she stated,
There was a footnote, and being an academic, I read footnotes, so I turned to the back of the book to read it. The footnote stated that Executive Order 11246 had recently been amended to cover sex discrimination by Executive Order 11375. I was alone at home and it was a genuine eureka moment. I actually shrieked aloud for I immediately realized that many universities and colleges had federal contracts, were therefore subject to the sex discrimination provisions of the executive order, and that the order could be used to fight sex discrimination on American campuses.

Sandler persevered. She chose to head directly into the eye of the storm.[12] She filed administrative charges of sex discrimination against 250 colleges and universities under Executive Order 11246.[13] As she recalled, some of the storms she faced while doing her Title IX work included that “[I]t was hard to convince a lot of people that even though [discrimination against African Americans] wasn’t the same [as sex discrimination], it was still sex discrimination. . . . Also, a lot of people, in terms of how they viewed men and women, saw these things as inborn.” 

She also clarified that,

You did not have to be an attorney to file a complaint. You could literally say, “I am charging X university with sex discrimination, and here is some evidence. . . .” [Y]ou didn’t need a lot . . . I would use a minimal thing, you know [things like] 25 percent of graduates in psychology are women, but they only hold 5 percent of the jobs in psychology. [I’m making up these figures now] . . . but I would be gathering data to document that there really was sex discrimination and that we needed to do something about it.
All of Sandler’s work was volunteer; she did not get paid for using her research skills and training to gather data, find loopholes, or file sex discrimination complaints.  

Sandler was also bolstered by the fact that she was married and supported financially by her husband. As she put it, “I was safely married at the time . . . the marriage was not dependent upon my income. . . . If I lost my job, it didn’t matter.” Sandler further specified that,

"[I]t didn’t cost any money to make [these charges], you just write it up. But I was not going to lose anything because I was married; and, at that point, being married meant you didn’t have to work in many instances if you were middle class. . . . [I]f you were a single person, you couldn’t afford to take that risk. . . . I was able to afford to take that risk."

To be sure, the 250 institutions that Sandler filed sex discrimination complaints against were not thrilled with her work. As Sandler indicated, “Oh well, people in higher education were certainly not happy.” In addition, most of the formal complaints that she filed against these institutions were “subsequently lost by the government.”[14] Furthermore, as Sandler reflected, “Like many laws, it is up to the courts to determine what the law actually means concerning a variety of issues.”[15]

Sandler also recognizes the value in letting other people lend her a hand. For example, she was a member of the Women’s Equity Action League (WEAL) founded by Ohio attorney Elizabeth Boyer and became chair of its Federal Action Contract Compliance Committee; in fact, she was the only member of the committee.[16] It was through WEAL that Sandler filed the first administrative class action complaint against all colleges and universities receiving federal contracts in January of 1970. 

WEAL and Sandler were also aided in the endeavor to end sex discrimination by Vincent Macaluso, Director of the Office for Federal Contract Compliance at the Department of Labor. As Sandler put it, his help was “secret and very substantial.”[17] It was fortuitous for Sandler to end up partnering with Macaluso. As she stated,

Fortunately, I hooked up with [Macaluso] . . . [he] worked at the Labor Department [and] had actually written the federal regulations concerning sex discrimination and contractor.  . . . [H]e was delighted to see me because he had been wanting someone to do something about it. So he actually ended up practically writing most of the first complaints that I filed because I certainly had no legal background whatsoever . . . but he taught me what I needed to do and how to do it

At this time, some women’s organizations began filing sex-discrimination charges; and other women began contacting Sandler about their own institutions.[18] Sandler would tell them to compile data related to the number and percentage, at each rank, of women faculty in several departments, including their own. She would then compare their university-specific compiled data against the total number of doctorates awarded to U.S. women in these specific fields; she used this comparison as the foundation of her filed administrative complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor.[19]

In a stroke of brilliance, Macaluso also encouraged Sandler to tell the women who were contacting her to write letters to their two state senators and their Congressional representatives, asking them to write the secretaries of the then Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and the Department Labor, respectively.[20] The goal was to have the secretaries enforce Executive Order 11246 as well as to keep senators and representatives abreast regarding whether or not sexual discrimination complaints had been resolved. It was brilliant because Congressional staffs then became aware that there was sexual discrimination in education; It also alerted federal agency staff of the issue.[21] In fact, as Sandler wrote, “We generated so much Congressional mail that the Departments of Labor, and Health, Education and Welfare had to assign several full-time personnel to handle the letters.”[22]

Four months after Sandler enlisted the aid of women in a letter-writing campaign about enforcing Executive Order 11246 (in April of 1970), both the University of Michigan and Harvard University were the first to be federally investigated for sex discrimination. This meant that, because of Sandler’s and others’ efforts, there was now direct involvement from the U.S. government in investigating college and university sex discrimination.[23] As Sandler wrote, “Pandora’s box had finally been opened.”[24]

Throughout this process, Sandler met another key helper: Representative and Democrat Edith Green from Oregon. Sandler says, “I’m the godmother, but she’s the real mother of Title IX.” Sandler describes how Green had first worked as a teacher and was then elected to Congress. “She had been there long enough; and, in those days, everything in the Congress was managed by seniority . . . she was in a safe district and got re-elected and re-elected, which gave her more tenure in terms of moving up the ladder in those days. You got to be head of a committee simply by being there long enough . . . [and] she knew about discrimination in education.”

Because Green had witnessed educational discrimination firsthand, she wanted to amend the assorted anti-discrimination laws so that they would cover girls and women in educational settings.[25] Since Green was the chair of the Special Sub-committee on Education of the Committee on Education and Labor, she had the authority to initiate the legislation that eventually became Title IX.[26] What she lacked was the constituency or data. What Sandler provided Green was “the constituency (the newly developing advocacy groups and active individuals) and the data she needed (often data collected by women about their campuses or professions).”[27]

As Sandler specified,
I began sending [Green] copies, met with her staff. . . . [M]any people were not aware of how widespread the discrimination was, and . . . we . . . began to document it . . . she was very interested because I was documenting sex discrimination which nobody had really done before. And it wasn’t that hard because it’s just simple statistics. But now there was interest in the subject and a way to file charges because most institutions receive federal funds of one sort or another . . . and so, it opens up the door . . . now there are things you can do about it

In addition, Sandler helped create a new language to talk about the issue: sex discrimination. As she stated, “[A] lot of people were a bit aware of it, but now we have the words sex discrimination.” She also described how men became important allies in the fight to end sex discrimination in educational institutions. As she detailed, “There were lots of men who were very helpful because they had wives who were professionals. And so they understood exactly what [was going on] . . . they knew their wives’ stories, how important it was to get people aware of this.” 

When Representative Green introduced the bill that would become Title IX, she decided to hold Congressional hearings. These were the first ever hearings related to discrimination against women in the educational workplace.[28] At those Congressional hearings, Sandler gave overview testimony to the committee from twelve hundred pages of data she had collected related to sex discrimination in education. 

Sandler was also the one who suggested most of the witnesses to Green.[29] Witness voices and stories are powerful because they embody experiences that are hard to imagine until they are spoken out loud. As Sandler wrote:

The witnesses provided horror stories, mainly about women employed on campus such as departments refusing to hire women or refusing to promote them or give them tenure; or women who received many thousands of dollars less salary than their male counterparts; or women working full-time as faculty, with no benefits, no office, no salary, because their husbands also taught at the same university.[30]

In addition, numerous women of color described the impact of sex discrimination on minority women. Sandler concluded, “It was an eye opener for anyone who saw it.”[31]

After the hearings were over, Sandler was hired by Representative Green to put together a written record of the hearings. Because of this request, Sandler became the first person appointed to a Congressional committee staff to work specifically on women’s issues.[32] Nothing like this had ever happened before, where so much information on sex discrimination was assembled, let alone published.[33]

One final note: Because there was limited awareness about the extent of educational sex discrimination, there was also limited understanding about what Title IX could do about it. As Sandler put it, “Even those of us intimately involved in Title IX . . . did not fully understand its impact at the time.”[34]

In fact, as related to collegiate extracurricular activities like sports, there was very little interest by those in Washington about what Title IX might do. As Sandler recalls, “[W]hen Title IX was close to passage, there were about five or six of us (plus Rep. Green) who realized that Title IX would cover sports and athletics.”[35] Even Sandler’s own understanding of Title IX’s potential impact on sports was narrow; as she reflected, she thought at the time, “Isn’t this nice! Because of Title IX, at the annual field-day events in schools, there will be more activities for girls.”[36]

In addition, when Senator Birch Bayh (also a member of WEAL’s Advisory Board and a Democrat from Indiana) introduced the bill in the Senate, although one senator required reassurance that girls and women would not be allowed to play football, other senators were more focused on the impact that Title IX might have on college beauty pageants, sororities, and fraternities.[37] Interestingly, even though most people now associate Title IX with collegiate athletics, aside from physical educators at the kindergarten through twelve and collegiate levels as well as coaches, very few people had an understanding of the ways that Title IX would impact girls’ and women’s sport participation. 

Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 was signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon on June 23, 1972, after it was passed by the Ninety-second Congress.[38] It reads: “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.”[39]

The scope of Title IX extends out to all U.S. state and local educational agencies and institutions that receive Department of Education federal financial assistance.[40] This includes approximately 7,000 postsecondary institutions, 16,500 local school districts, for-profit schools, museums, libraries, and education and vocational rehabilitation agencies in all fifty states, possessions, and territories of the U.S., and the District of Columbia; in addition, educational activities and programs and activities receiving the Department of Education federal funds must “operate in a nondiscriminatory manner.”[41]

The passage of Title IX accomplished a great many things. For example, as a result of Sandler’s compilation of material and the efforts of Department of Labor’s Director of the Office for Federal Contract Compliance, Vincent Macaluso; House of Representatives Committee on Education, and Labor Chair Edith Green; and Senator Birch Bayh (Democrat, Indiana) who introduced the bill in the Senate:[42]

  1. Both women and men became more aware about educational sex discrimination.
  2. Because of this awareness, women became a new and vitally important advocacy group.
  3. Most of the unconcealed practices, policies, and programs that treated girls and women differently or excluded them were abolished.
  4. The ambition, self-esteem, and confidence of millions of girls and women increased after Title IX was passed.
  5. Issues of import to girls and women have become institutionalized.
  6. Data and research related to discrimination against girls and women is now viewed as legitimate knowledge.
  7. The interests and needs of diverse groups of women are now considered important and legitimate areas of concern.
  1. Girls’ and women’s sport interest and participation continues to skyrocket.[43] In fact, recent statistics demonstrate that in the first thirty years following Title IX’s passage (1972–2002), there was an increase in female high-school varsity sport participation from 7 percent to 41.5 percent, and 2.8 million girls participating in high school athletics overall. In addition, by 2001, 150,900 female athletes participated in collegiate athletics, making up 43 percent of collegiate athletes in general.[44]
Sandler believes there are still many issues that need to be tackled related to sex discrimination. For example, she noted, “[I]n many places, men’s sports get more [funding] . . . even if you take away football, there’s not equality . . . and it varies from school to school or school system to school system.”

When reflecting on when Title IX was passed, Sandler said,
I was quite naïve. I thought all the problems of sex discrimination in education would be solved in one or two years at most. When two years passed, I increased my estimate to five years, then later to ten, then to fifty, and now I realize it will take many generations to solve all the problems. We began with simple goals . . . we had only limited information about the extent of sex discrimination at that time, and we did not fully understand how comprehensive . . . complex . . . [and] subtle . . . sex discrimination is.[45]

            Further, Sandler believes that there is still sex discrimination that need to be addressed,[46] such as:
  1. Lower education—sex discrimination is not paid as much attention to at the high school, middle school, and elementary school levels as it is at the college level.
  2. Title IX enforcement by the Office for Civil Rights at the Education Department is severely backlogged, typically delayed, and spotty at best.
  3. Participation in sport is still a major issue. Discrepancies in equipment, facilities, opportunities, scholarships, etc., still exist.
  4. Attorneys and judges need more training about Title IX, since many have negligible knowledge of this area of the law, including its implications.
  5. More sexual harassment programs and training is needed in school systems, particularly related to student-on-student sexual harassment.
  1. Changes to Title IX (including allowing single-sex programs and classes) needs monitoring.[47]
Despite pushback, Sandler does not believe that Title IX will be dismantled. As she stated,
Oh, there are always people who would like to dismantle it. But it’s too far. It’s too ingrained now . . . there was a time when that was a real possibility. But I think it would be very hard to dismantle, partly because for every woman who’s in sports . . . you have fathers whose daughters are playing sports . . . and [fathers] made a difference in the civil rights movement . . . there’s now a whole history of participation by women and girls, and people expect them to be treated differently [now].
Most importantly, Sandler emphasized: “[I]t would be illegal.”

In closing, as the heroine of her own story, Sandler faced the world of education head on, saw the inequities contained within it, challenged them, and came out the other side with a new understanding of that world and herself.[48]She realized that the personal was indeed political; that by challenging the male/female binary in higher education, she and other women (as well as male allies) could work together to make the educational workplace a more just and equitable place for women. 

When asked what she would tell a young feminist advocate, Sandler stated,
[T]here’s still discrepancies that happen, but people have a way of protesting; and, then, they can be changed. . . . [I]t’s not like it used to be . . . women themselves are activists now . . . they know enough about the law and Title IX and they recognize . . . inequality in a different way . . . they see it and they can do something about it.

Notes to Chapter 1
[1] Bernice Sandler, “All about Bernice Sandler,”
[2] Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series), “Bernice R. Sandler, EdD (1928–2019), MSA SC 3520-15244. April 26, 2018.
[3] Psychology’s Feminist Voices, “Bernice Resnick Sandler.”
[4] Bernice Resnick Sandler, “Title IX: How We Got It and What a Difference It Made,” 55 Clev. St. L. Rev. 473. 2007.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Bernice Sandler in discussion with Leslee A. Fisher on May 2, 2018. All direct quotes are taken from this interview unless otherwise noted.
[8] Bernice Sandler, “Title IX: How We Got It.” 
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Victoria Schmidt, “The Heroine’s Journey Arc,” The Heroine Journey Project, March, 2015.
[13] Bernice Sandler, “Title IX: How We Got It.” 
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Ibid.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Ibid.
[25] Ibid.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Ibid.
[30] Ibid.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Ibid.
[33] Ibid.
[34] Ibid.
[35] Ibid.
[36] Ibid.
[37] Ibid.
[38] U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, “Title IX and Sex Discrimination.”
[39] Ibid.
[40] Ibid.
[41] Ibid.
[42] Bernice Sandler, “Title IX: How We Got It.” 
[43] Ibid.
[44] Katrina J. Brown and Catherine Connolly, “The Role of Law in Promoting Women in Elite Athletics: An Examination of Four Nations.” International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 45(1): 3-21, 2010.
[45] Bernice Sandler, “Title IX: How We Got It.” 
[46] Ibid.
[47] Ibid.
[48] Ken Miyamoto, “Why Screenwriters Should Embrace the Heroine’s Journey,” Screencraft.

Table of Contents

Foreword to the Series vii

New Foreword to the Series xi

Preface xv

Too Strong for a Woman: Bernice Sandler and the Birth of Title IX Leslee A. Fisher 1

Ruth Simmons Carmen Twillie Ambar Tyler Sloan 14

Nancy Cantor: An Insider with Outsider Values Karen R. Lawrence 35

Nannerl Keohane and the Women's Initiative at Duke University Patricia A. Pelfrey 52

Molly Corbett Broad Michele Ozumba 70

Reimagining Women's Education: Jill Ker Conway, Smith College, and the Ada Comstock Scholars Program Susan C. Bourque 82

Intellectual Inquiry and Social Activism: Sister President Johnnetta Betsch Cole Marilyn R. Schuster 99

Hanna Holborn Gray and Graduate Education at the University of Chicago Carol T. Christ 115

Decolonializing across Broadway: The Barnard Presidency of Judith R. Shapiro Karen R. Stubaus 119

President Regina Peruggi of Kingsborough Community College: Transformative Leadership and Student Success Jacquelyn Litt 144

The Reinventor: Pat McGuire and the Transformation of Trinity Washington University Elizabeth Kiss 158

In Pursuit of Educational Access: Juliet García Leading from within the Bureaucracy, against the Grain Maureen A. Mahoney 178

Acknowledgments 195

Contributors 197

Index 203

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