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Celebrating 50 years of Title IX

CA First Partner Siebel Newsom, LA County Supervisor Mitchell and other expert leaders discussed half a century of progress for gender justice

July 1, 2022

The panelists included (left to right): LA County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell; Kamilah Willingham, feminist writer, speaker and activist; Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro, PhD, director of the USC Center for Feminist Research; Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Olympic champion, civil rights lawyer; and First Partner of California Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
The panelists included (left to right): LA County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell; Kamilah Willingham, feminist writer, speaker and activist; Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro, PhD, director of the USC Center for Feminist Research; Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Olympic champion, civil rights lawyer; and First Partner of California Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

Mount Saint Mary’s, in partnership with The Representation Project, hosted a special event on Wednesday, June 29, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark legislation that prohibits sex-based discrimination at educational institutions that receive federal funding.

An inspiring and energizing panel discussion featuring First Partner of California Jennifer Siebel Newsom, LA County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell and other thought leaders commemorated half a century of progress for gender justice in an intimate setting at the Doheny Campus of Mount Saint Mary’s.

The panelists discussed how the passage of Title IX 50 years ago created transformational opportunities in education and athletics for women across the country, and they shared how their own experiences influenced their advocacy work to advance gender equity.

(Left to right):  Dr. Caroline Heldman, executive director of The Representation Project; Dr. Linda McMurdock, MSMU vice president of Student Affairs; Dr. Emerald Archer, director of the MSMU Center for the Advancement of Women; Supervisor Mitchell; Kamilah Willingham; Jennifer Siebel Newsom; Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro; Nancy Hogshead-Makar; and Brenda Robinson, board member at The Rep Project.
(Left to right): Dr. Caroline Heldman, executive director of The Representation Project; Dr. Linda McMurdock, MSMU vice president of Student Affairs; Dr. Emerald Archer, director of the MSMU Center for the Advancement of Women; Supervisor Mitchell; Kamilah Willingham; Jennifer Siebel Newsom; Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro; Nancy Hogshead-Makar; and Brenda Robinson, board member at The Rep Project.

“Title IX has been a catalyst for women in sports and a vital tool for addressing campus sexual violence,” said Siebel Newsom, an award-winning filmmaker and an influential thought leader on gender equality. “We still have a long way to go to achieve gender parity, but I’m hopeful that events like this and more women using their voice will help shift culture and policy in the right direction.”

Siebel Newsom founded The Representation Project in 2011, a global gender justice nonprofit organization that challenges harmful gender norms and stereotypes through films, education, research and activism. Siebel Newsom explained that sports had a great impact in her own life growing up. She played varsity tennis, basketball and soccer in high school and went on to play soccer on the under-23 national team, as well as at Stanford University. “Sports gave me so much confidence to develop my own voice. It gave me the courage and conviction to believe that I deserve to have a seat at the table like any other man.”

“We are thrilled to collaborate with California’s First Partner Siebel Newsom, Supervisor Holly Mitchell, and The Representation Project to recognize and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX,” said Linda McMurdock, PhD, vice president of student affairs at Mount Saint Mary’s. “As the only women’s university in Los Angeles, and one of the most diverse in the nation, we know firsthand that students thrive when given the resources and opportunities to succeed.”

Dr. Linda McMurdock, MSMU vice president of Student Affairs, during her opening remarks.
Dr. Linda McMurdock, MSMU vice president of Student Affairs, during her opening remarks.

Other guest speakers at the event included Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro, PhD, director of the USC Center for Feminist Research and dean’s professor and chair of political science and international relations at the University of Southern California; Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Olympic champion, civil rights lawyer and founder and CEO of Champion Women; and Kamilah Willingham, feminist writer, speaker and activist.

Hogshead-Makar, who won three gold medals and one silver medal in the 1984 Summer Olympics, explained that she was able to study at Duke University on a full scholarship thanks to the legislation. “Title IX is the second most important legal advancement for women in the US after the right to vote,” said Hogshead-Makar.

The Olympic champion and activist, who is an internationally recognized legal expert on gender equity in athletics and serves as an expert witness in Title IX athletics cases, explained that women are being denied $1.18 billion in college scholarships and over 200,000 college sport opportunities every year. She also shared her own personal story and recounted how the university stood up for her and provided support in 1981, after she was raped while running on campus. “But I know that many other victims of rape don’t receive the same treatment because of racial and economic inequalities,” she said.

Willingham, who was featured in the 2015 campus sexual assault documentary “The Hunting Ground” in which she told her story of surviving sexual assault while studying at Harvard Law School, said, “Looking back, I realize that no part of my educational journey was untouched by the need to navigate dangerous and predatory classmates and teachers. The systems and institutions that I trusted to help me not only failed me, but also traumatized me.

“We really need to listen to survivors and provide more peer-to-peer support and mental health assistance to victims of sexual assault,” said Willingham in discussing the future of Title IX.

First Partner of California Siebel Newsom discussed the importance of equal opportunities in sports and cultural change to advance gender justice.
First Partner of California Siebel Newsom discussed the importance of equal opportunities in sports and cultural change to advance gender justice.

Hancock Alfaro recognized the important role of Patsy Mink, a US Representative who authored and sponsored the passage of Title IX, which she wrote in part as a response to the adversities she faced as a woman during her own education experience. “Without a Patsy Mink in the 1960s and 1970s pushing for equal educational opportunities to allow women to pursue their dreams, we would not have today an all-female Board of Supervisors in Los Angeles, for example,” Hancock Alfaro said. “This is a tremendously important touchstone for what women of color bring to leadership.”

After a round of questions with the audience, Supervisor Mitchell, who moderated the discussion, concluded the event by saying, “Don’t give your power away and figure out a way to become active in the march for gender equity.”

  

Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions to the panel.
Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions to the panel.

ABOUT THE REPRESENTATION PROJECT

The Representation Project is a leading global gender justice non-profit organization. We use films, education, research, and activism to challenge harmful gender norms and stereotypes. In 2011, Jennifer Siebel Newsom founded The Rep Project in response to the overwhelming public demand for ongoing education and social action in support of her first film, Miss Representation. Since then, Siebel Newsom has released three more acclaimed films, The Mask You Live In (2015), The Great American Lie (2019), and Fair Play (2022). The organization also runs a global Next-Gen filmmaker program to train the next generation of change agents. The Rep Project is also known for its impactful social activism campaigns, including #NotBuyingIt, #AskHerMore, #RepresentHer and #RespectHerGame. therepproject.org