Though small in stature, Bernice Sandler spoke of a powerful and pressing issue, bringing attention to the topic of inequality.
A Senior Scholar at the Women’s Research and Education Institute in Washington D.C. and considered the “godmother of Title IX”, Sandler addressed the issue of unfairness in society, specifically in regards to women Wednesday in the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center.
Title IX is a law passed in 1972 that brought about equal federal funding for educational programs, specifically sports, financial aid and admission into higher education, sexual harassment and standardized testing.
Sandler spoke of a variety of differences among men and women with how they are treated and provided research she gathered through her years of work in the subject.
She said she was introduced to the topic when she noticed at a business seminar that men had a tendency to interrupt women almost twice as much more than women speaking over men.
Sandler also listed statistics involving the differences in treatment among genders.
“Generally speaking, women have less self-confidence than men do,” she said. “Men are called upon more by name, women receive less eye contact.”
However, the focus of the speech was not entirely on women.
“It’s not just women being treated poorly, but other [minorities] as well,” Sandler said.
Sandler gave the audience advice and including specific examples on how to deal and respond to discriminatory and sexist remarks.
“Ignoring is not a strategy for bad behavior,” she said. “Do not ignore it and expect it to go away.”
She explained the importance to be direct when necessary, and to take a stand against offensive words.
“Sometimes [when I’m spoken to offensively] I am very direct and say, ‘I’m not a girl, I’m a woman,’” she said. “You can say it nicely.”
Sandler placed emphasis on the need for men and women to work together collaboratively to find solutions and bring change to institutions.
Students who attended said they enjoyed her overall approach on the subject.
“I thought it was really interesting,” said junior accounting major Victoria VonBergen. “She took a really unique take on the issue and had a lot of solutions.”
And while many people associate Title IX with sports, the real accomplishment is much more than just athletics and scholarships, Sandler said. It has helped boys and girls, and men and women, have better friendships with each other and to respect one another.
“One of the wonderful things about being human is that we can change,” she said. “We have a long journey, but we have taken the first steps with it.”