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April 04, 2022

Rights of Women

Video: Employer's Treatment of Female Employees

In the video above, Rights of Women Co-Chair Jessica Stender answers the question "Why do some jobs pay their female employees less or treat their female employees unfairly compared to their male employees?", asked by a middle school student from Washington, D.C.

Women and The Civil Rights Movement

Q; What role did women play in the 60's Civil Rights Movement? Alejandra from Nevada

A: Women were key strategists and advocates in the 1960's Civil Rights Movement.  Unfortunately, their contributions are often overshadowed by the men. It's important to recognize their contribution.  These ladies blazed a trail that others would follow for years.

● Septima Clark served as a civil rights advocate during the 1950's and 1960's.

  •  She was determined to make a change in the voting system in the South. Although Black men and women had the right to vote, many states administered literacy tests to keep them from voting. 
  • To combat the problem, Clark designed education programs to teach African Americans how to read and write in order to help them realize their voting rights.  She worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and her idea of "citizen education" was vital to the Civil Rights Movement

● Ella Baker was one of the founders of the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC (my hometown).  She persuaded MLK Jr. to invest in the conference which would go on to energize young people to become involved in the modern civil rights movement.

● Diane Nash was a leader in the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee).  She helped organize the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins and the Freedom Rides through the Deep South.

● Ruby Dee took a different approach to her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.  She was a movie and stage actress and chose to support MCRM through her work in the Arts.  She worked to combat negative African American stereotypes in the Arts.  She went on to star in A Raisin in the Sun and helped to found the Association of Artists for Freedom.

● Jo Ann Robinson was a leader in the Women's Political Conference which supported the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  She helped organize the Montgomery Improvement Association which fought for civil rights and bus desegregation.

● Shirley Chisholm became the first Black congresswoman in 1968.  She spent her political career fighting for improved educational opportunities and social justice.

These are just a few examples of the vital role that women played in the 1960's Modern Civil Rights Movement.

Women's Sports and Title IX

Q: We mandate that women's sports are included in schools, can we mandate that the same amount of money and publicity are also given? The Women's college basketball players were just told by a hotel that there was not enough room for a real gym for them to practice during the tournament. The hotel did supply a full gym for the men's teams. - asked by a middle school student from Connecticut

A: Your question creates a great opportunity to point out that 2022 is the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Title IX is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal financial assistance (both public and private). Because school based athletics are educational programs, Title IX prohibits schools from discriminating in the benefits they provide to male and female teams. Before Title IX, many schools did not have athletic programs for women/girls, did not provide as many opportunities for women/girls, or did not treat them as well as the men/boys. Title IX’s regulations include a list of athletic benefits that schools commonly provide to athletes and their teams and that must be provided equitably, including equipment, supplies, uniforms, practice and game schedules, facilities, locker rooms, access to coaching, travel and transportation, access to medical and athletic training, access to weight and conditioning rooms and coaching, access to housing and dining, recruiting, and publicity. Under Title IX, publicity includes such things as game announcements, sports information, media guides, team promotions, cheerleaders and pep bands at games, and providing game scores and information to the media. Schools do not have control over what local newspapers or TV stations cover, but they must promote the teams and the coverage equitably. Schools do not have to provide the exact same benefits to each team and the amount of money spent on male and female teams need not be equal. Instead, male and female teams must each have the benefits they need for their sport. For example, football uniforms cost more than volleyball uniforms. That is OK, so long as the boys’ football and girls’ volleyball players each have uniforms of comparable quality and suitability for their sports. On the other hand, it is not OK if the boys’ football team has a luxury locker room just for football when no female teams do.

The law requires that the athletic program as a whole be equitable. Ideally, schools would treat all their athletes the same, but many do not have the money to do so. They tend to provide more or better benefits for some teams more than others. But that disparity cannot be based upon sex. It is allowed only if, overall, considering all the teams and all the benefits, male and female athletes are treated equitably. For example, a school may provide more and better benefits to its boys’ lacrosse team than it provides to its girls’ lacrosse team only if that inequity is balanced by providing more and better benefits to a comparable percentage of girls in another sport. So, if the school then provides more and better benefits to its girls’ soccer team than to its boys’ soccer team, that is OK so long as in the end, the same percentage of male and female athletes receive the same types and quality of benefits. It is important to note that the benefits must be provided to an equitable number of athletes (measured by the same percentage of athletes) – not teams. Therefore, it is not OK if a school treats its boys’ football and basketball teams and its girls’ volleyball and basketball teams better than all other teams, because that would mean far more boys than girls would receive those extra/better benefits. The school must provide enough girls with benefits to account for the large number of boys on the football team (assuming the same number of students play boys’ and girls’ basketball). That may require the school to treat girls’ volleyball, softball, and soccer teams as well as the boys’ football team. If the boys’ baseball and soccer teams get upset because they aren’t treated as well as the girls’ softball and soccer teams, the problem is not sex discrimination. It is that their school chose to favor boys’ football (with its many athletes) over their sports. Under the law, equity means the same percentage of the male athletes and the same percentage of female athletes must receive the same level of benefits. Your question highlights the disparity in the treatment of male and female basketball players at the 2021 NCAA tournament. The NCAA provided more and better benefits for the male athletes than it did for the female athletes. It provided better training and strength and conditioning services for the men. It provided better hotels and better meals for the men. And it promoted the men’s tournament far more than the women’s tournament. This was a public relations nightmare for the NCAA. However, it might not have been illegal. So far, courts have held that the NCAA does not receive federal funding (unlike schools themselves) and thus is not covered by Title IX. This does not mean that the NCAA did not discriminate. It just means that it does not have to comply with that law (although it certainly could voluntarily). Hopefully, courts will someday rule differently and hold the NCAA accountable because it effectively runs the educational program of intercollegiate athletics for its member schools who do receive federal funds. On the other hand, courts have held that state high school athletic associations are subject to Title IX and must not discriminate in how they treat male and female athletes and teams. Therefore, if the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference treated boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at its state tournament as disparately as the NCAA did, it would be in violation of Title IX. The student questioner may be interested to learn that Danbury High School was sued in the 1990s for not treating male and female athletes equitably under Title IX. The school district settled the lawsuit and agreed to make changes to improve the treatment of female athletes.