“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 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.”— BARBARA WINSLOW, HISTORIAN AND FOUNDER OF THE SHIRLEY CHISHOLM PROJECT, DESCRIBING LIFE BEFORE TITLE IX
On June 23, 2022, America celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the passing of Title IX. While it’s easy enough intellectually to acknowledge the changes that Title IX has brought to the educational environment across the country, it doesn’t quite hit home as directly as the personal stories of the women who lived it.
We’ve come a long way from the days when Adrienne Bentman ’74 first encountered the coordinator of women’s athletics in an office/utility closet that she shared with some mops and buckets, but there’s still more work to be done before we achieve true gender equity. In a new “What Is …” column that invites Wesleyan experts to share their knowledge and help deepen our understanding of complex concepts, Assistant Vice President for Equity & Inclusion/Title IX Coordinator Debbie Colucci reminds us that Title IX covers much more than just athletics. And the rights and protections that it upholds open the door to many more groundbreaking opportunities and achievements that benefit our entire population, regardless of gender.
With this issue we celebrate game-changing firsts and find inspiration in the changemakers who have helped lead the charge. Their vision and persistence serve as an example of what ordinary people can do to effect extraordinary change: from the pioneering women athletes of the 1970s and ’80s who helped build up Wesleyan’s athletic program, to political powerhouses Jessica Rosenworcel ’93 and Lael Brainard ’83 shattering the glass ceiling in government to lead the FCC and the Federal Reserve, to Michael Bloch ’00, taking on the leadership of a white nationalist movement in court and hitting them where it hurts most—in their wallets. What we hear in these stories is as much about seeing a need and stepping up to address it, as it is about not sitting on their laurels and continuing to fight for their values and core beliefs using the skills they honed while at Wesleyan.
We hear similar ambitions and determination from our newly graduated Class of 2022 and take pride in knowing that they are well prepared to face the “real world” and eager to make it better. I look forward to seeing what this new generation of changemakers will take on next.