Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women’s History

Title IX at 50: Women’s Fight for Access and Equity

Explore the turbulent and diverse history of women’s organizing and activism around Title IX, the federal civil rights law that protects people from discrimination based on sex that was passed 50 years ago in 1972.

Now in its seventh year, the Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women's History is the cornerstone of the Center for Women's History's public and scholarly programs. This year’s virtual conference features a mix of pre-recorded and live conversations during March 2022.

Activists have long been the driving force behind the enactment and enforcement of Title IX, which emerged from decades of political organizing by women in higher education and women’s civil rights groups. The statute—which covers a broad scope of American educational life from K-12 to higher education—became a new tool to challenge governmental and educational institutions to give women greater access to education. Sports and sexual harassment quickly became flashpoints, raising questions about how access is tied to safety, bodily integrity, and resources.

Fifty years after its passage, Title IX carries a powerful legacy of women’s activism against systemic sexism and for equal access to education. This anniversary is an opportunity to discuss the multiple interpretations of Title IX—and its limitations—and to consider how to ensure a more just future.

Explore Past Max Conferences

Billie Jean King & Jessica Luther: Keynote Conversation

Featuring: Billie Jean King, Jessica Luther (moderator)
Recorded: Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Tennis legend Billie Jean King has campaigned tirelessly for gender equity in sports throughout her entire career, including pushing for the passage and implementation of Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendment Acts prohibiting sex discrimination in federal education programs. In this wide-ranging keynote conversation with journalist Jessica W. Luther, King discusses her early experiences as an athlete in a male-dominated sport, her leadership in creating women’s professional tennis and pushing for pay parity–including the infamous Battle of the Sexes against Bobby Riggs in 1973–and her thoughts on the continuing legacy of Title IX today. Thumbnail image: Bela Ugrin. Original Nine, Houston, Texas, 1970. Courtesy of Houston Post Collection/Houston Public Library, HMRC

Creating Title IX: Activists’ Fight for Equal Education

Featuring: Margaret Dunkle, Marcia Greenberger, Holly Knox, Sherry Boschert (moderator)
Recorded: Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Building on the grassroots movements for women’s liberation in the 1960s, women turned to Congress to address the rampant sex discrimination embedded in American educational institutions. Passing Title IX in 1972 was an enormous victory, but the battle was just beginning: Debates soon erupted over how to implement and enforce the bill and how to urge institutions to open their doors further. This panel brings together activists who were central to this fight and who created a legislative and legal framework for equality that persists to this day.

Watch Margaret Dunkle, the first Chair of the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, Marcia Greenberger, founder co-president emerita of the National Women’s Law Center, and Holly Knox, founder and director of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund’s Project on Equal Education Rights (PEER) in conversation with Sherry Boschert, journalist and author of 37 Words: Title IX and Fifty Years of Fighting Sex Discrimination.

Fighting Sexual Harassment and Abuse with Title IX

Featuring: Alexandra Brodsky, Clarissa Brooks, Naomi Man, Irin Carmon (moderator)
Thursday, March 31, 2022

Fifty years after its passage, Title IX has been a critical vehicle for challenging educational institutions to give women greater access to education. Sexual harassment quickly becoming a flashpoint in the legal, political, and cultural battles around the law. Prompted by student activism, colleges and universities across the country developed grievance procedures for sexual harassment and sexual assault, acknowledging that access to education is tied to safety and bodily integrity.

Watch and listen as lawyer, author, and co-founder of youth-led organization Know Your Title IX, Alexandra Brodsky; author, journalist, and organizer, Clarissa Brooks; and Professor Naomi Man, Executive Director of the Civil Litigation & Justice Program and A2J Clinic in conversation with Irin Carmon, senior correspondent at New York magazine and co-author of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg; as they discuss the multiple interpretations of Title IX, its limitations, and its potential for ensuring a more just future. Recorded: Thursday, March 31, 2022