No One Would Hire Her. So She Wrote Title IX and Changed History for Millions of Women.


No One Would Hire Her. So She Wrote Title IX and Changed History for Millions of Women. Meet Education Trailblazer Patsy Mink

March is National Women’s History Month. In recognition, The 74 is sharing stories of remarkable women who transformed U.S. education.

She applied to a dozen medical schools, but she was denied admission because she was a woman. She earned a law degree instead, but firms refused to hire her because she had a daughter and employers said she couldn’t work long hours. So she became a politician and wrote legislation that changed the politics of gender, knocking down barriers to educational opportunity for millions of women.

“I didn’t start off wanting to be in politics,” Patsy Takemoto Mink once told a reporter. “Not being able to get a job from anybody changed things.”

And Mink changed a lot of things. The first woman of color elected to Congress, she co-authored Title IX, which mandated equal treatment for women and men in education. After 45 years, the law has led to dramatic progress: Now 11.5 million women attend college, compared with 8.9 million men. Before Title IX, just 300,000 girls nationwide participated in high school sports every year, versus the 3.5 million who do today. The fields of medicine and law that first excluded Mink are now almost equal in their enrollment of male and female students.

“She changed the course of history — and how many people can we say that about?” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro after Mink’s death in 2002.

Mink served 13 sessions in the House of Representatives as a congresswoman from Hawaii, first from 1965 to 1977 and then from 1990 until her death at age 74. In between, after a failed run for Senate, she worked for the Carter administration, ran for U.S. president in the Oregon primary, worked for a liberal political lobbying organization, and served on the Honolulu City Council. She returned to Congress in 1990.

After her success with Title IX, she helped pass the Women’s Educational Equity Act in 1974, which provided funding to prevent discrimination in education programs. For example, schools could use the money to replace textbooks riddled with stereotypes pushing men toward careers in medicine and engineering while encouraging women to remain in the home.

“So long as any part of our society adheres to a sexist notion that men should do certain things and women should do certain things and then begin to inculcate our babies with these certain notions through curriculum development and so forth, then we’ll never be rid of the basic causes of sex discrimination,” Mink said in an interview in 1974.


She also supported legislation on bilingual education, child care, student loans, and support for students with disabilities.

For many, Mink’s life was an example of how to kick down doors, regardless of how many times they were slammed in her face. When law firms in Honolulu refused to hire her because she was a mother, she started her own private practice, accepting a fish as payment for her first case. A political newcomer, she won her first race for a Hawaiian territorial House seat by walking through neighborhoods, knocking on doors, and talking to constituents — an uncommon tactic for 1956. Even after Title IX was signed into law, Mink had to fight against subsequent bills that tried to undermine it in the areas it applied to, like athletics.

It wasn’t easy to be an Asian-American female politician, either. When Mink first arrived in Washington, she was heralded by the press as “diminutive” and “exotic.” She and her female colleagues were banned from House facilities, like the gym, or dismissed with comments about “raging hormonal imbalance[s].” She was accused of neglecting her child for her career.

But as people soon learned, Mink fought back.

Source: Library of Congress

“I think that’s the most offensive question that’s ever asked,” she said calmly, after a reporter questioned how she balanced being a married congresswoman. “I’ve never heard anyone ask a man, ‘How has it been on your family?’ ”

When President George H.W. Bush vetoed the Civil Rights Act in 1990, she harshly criticized him, saying he walked back on his campaign promise. She called on voters to judge him by this vote, which was “an affront to all of us, men and women, in the workplace,” she said.

And despite all the progress Title IX had made, Mink was quick to acknowledge when she returned to Congress in 1990 that much work was still needed toward achieving equality.

“I have been away from the Congress for about 14 years, and I am astonished to find that in the first month of my return here … we are still debating the question of what equality really means in this country,” she said.

That reality isn’t too far from the one facing women today, advocates said. “Even though now women have supposedly equal access to educational opportunities, they still earn less than men regardless of educational attainment, and women, in fact, have to attain a Ph.D. — basically the highest degree possible in academia — in order to match the lifetime earnings of men who have bachelor’s degrees,” said Lenora Lapidus, director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project.

Still, for women seeking to attain positions of power overwhelmingly held by men, Mink is an icon. Mazie Hirono, now a U.S. senator, recalled how Mink encouraged her as a young politician, and when Hirono was first elected to the House of Representatives, she cast her first vote for Nancy Pelosi to be speaker. Hirono dedicated her vote to Mink, an announcement that caused Pelosi to turn around in her chair and smile: Mink had told Pelosi that she would one day become speaker. And Pelosi did, the first woman to lead the U.S. House of Representatives.

“No matter how many times she was excluded from traditionally male spheres, this did not hold back Patsy — inspiring me and many others along the way through her perseverance and risk-taking,” Hirono wrote in an essay for Politico.

Title IX was eventually renamed the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, and in 2014, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Mink — his former congresswoman — the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

“Every girl in Little League, every woman playing college sports, and every parent, including Michelle and myself, who watches their daughter on a field or in the classroom, is forever grateful to the late Patsy Takemoto Mink,” he said. “Patsy was a passionate advocate for opportunity and equality and realizing the full promise of the American Dream.”



7 Ways Title IX Protects College Students


For 45 years, Title IX has helped protect students from gender discrimination but recently the Trump Administration has been tweaking guidelines for the influential civil rights law.

First, Betsy DeVos’ Education Department withdrew protections for transgender students. Now, sexual assault survivors have to work harder to prove their assault happened.

Despite these changes, Title IX still benefits students. Here are a few groups the legislation helps.

1. Sexual assault survivors

The new Trump-era guidelines give colleges more power over sexual assault cases. This may not be the best idea, as universities across the country may under-report or even cover up sexual violence on campus.

Title IX has been used to protect survivors. Though its standards are weakening, the legislation is still there.

2. Transgender people

Former President Barack Obama used Title IX to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that matched their gender identities.

The Departments of Education and Justice withdrew this guidance earlier this year. Yet, as the National Center for Transgender Equality clarifies, “The guidance itself didn’t change the law or create protections for transgender students that weren’t there before. It just clarified how the Department of Education would be enforcing existing laws.”

Essentially, trans students are still protected. After all, sex discrimination is sex discrimination.

3. Pregnant students

Whether they’re newly pregnant, getting an abortion or giving birth, pregnant students have legal protections.

Under Title IX, students facing pregnancy-related issues should be given the accommodations that students with temporary disabilities would get. For example, professors need to excuse pregnancy-related absences otherwise, they’re in violation of Title IX.

4. Student athletes

We often talk about Title IX in the context of school sports. Indeed, the law does protect student athletes of all genders.

Women’s sports need to get the same funding and resources as men’s sports, according to the law. However, a Vice investigation found many big-name colleges disproportionately favor their men’s programs anyway.

5. Bullying and harassment targets

If bullies target someone for their gender, Title IX has their back. As the National Women’s Law Center notes, this protects women targeted by sexually explicit gossip, and also protects men from getting harassed with sexist and homophobic names like “fairy.”

Schools need to take action on bullying and harassment incidents or they will fall foul of the law.

6. Math and science scholars

Before Title IX, colleges steered women away from majors in math and science.

Although the gender gap in STEM persists today, the law ensures someone can’t be pushed out of their chosen study because of their gender.

7. Those Who File Complaints

Legally, colleges aren’t allowed to retaliate against those who file Title IX complaints.

If you experience or witness sex discrimination in higher education, the Women’s Law Center has some good tips to help you.

The Human Rights Campaign is also supporting a Care2 petition to urge the Trump Administration and Betsy DeVos to protect LGBT students through Title IX.

And if you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.




TITLE IX.COM The Internet’s Primary Clearinghouse for All Things Title IX

The Internet’s Primary Clearinghouse for All Things Title IX



Schoolhouse Sex Assault

10 stories

Student-on-student sexual assault is not just a problem on college campuses. It threatens thousands of kids a year in elementary, middle and high schools across America. Rich or poor, urban or rural, no school is immune.

AP journalists spent a year investigating sexual assaults in elementary and secondary schools. It found they occurred anywhere students were left unsupervised: buses and bathrooms, hallways and locker rooms. Sometimes, victims and offenders were as young as 5 or 6. Analyzing information from state education agencies and federal crime data, AP found about 17,000 official reports of sexual assaults by students over a four-year period. Experts believe that’s the tip of the iceberg.

Go to –


Find Your Title IX Coordinator on This Map

All K–12 schools that receive federal funds must designate at least one employee to coordinate their efforts to comply with and carry out their responsibilities under Title IX. These Title IX coordinators ensure that every person affected by sex discrimination in schools — students, parents, and employees — are aware of their legal rights, including how to file a complaint.


Find Your Title IX Coordinator on This Map


Copyright © All Rights Reserved · Green Hope Theme by Sivan & schiy · Proudly powered by WordPress