Bernice fought for equal rights
Known as the Godmother of Title IX, Bernice Sandler was instrumental in ending the discrimination American women faced with education.
For decades she worked tirelessly to ensure no one could be prevented from learning because of their sex.
Her mission began in 1969 when, after completing a doctorate at Maryland University, she applied for a teaching position there.
She was knocked back by one of her male colleagues. “Let’s face it,” he said. “You come on too strong for a woman.”
And when she tried again she was told it would be too much of a risk taking her on – with the interviewer saying women spend too much time at home, looking after their sick children, instead of working.
Over the years that followed, Mrs Sandler documented and investigated all of the ways the culture of sex discrimination could be changed.
She joined a women’s rights group, the Women’s Equity Action League, and filed a classaction lawsuit against 250 colleges and universities, citing a piece of legislation signed by President Lyndon B Johnson preventing employers from discriminating against applicants.
At the time Mrs Sandler said: “Many departments had no women at all, even though women often obtained as many as 25% of the doctorates in those fields.
“The pattern was clear – the higher the rank, the fewer the women.”
Mrs Sandler’s movement quickly gained traction and she soon found herself testifying at congressional hearings.
It eventually led to the introduction of Title IX, a piece of legislation banning gender discrimination in any form of publicly-funded activity or education programme which was signed into law by Richard Nixon in 1972.
In the years that followed, Mrs Sandler continued to fight against discrimination. She sat on several government panels working to remove the gender gap and gave more than 2,500 presentations on the topic.
Most recently, she was a senior scholar in residence at the Women’s Research and Education Institute in Washington, DC.
She died on January 5 at the age of 90.
Bernice Sandler fought against discrimination