Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dr. Sandler was born in Brooklyn, New York in the 1940s. She has one sister that is four years older than her. They weren’t that close until “we were in our fifties, then we got really, really close”. She died five years ago. She lived in the city of Brooklyn but was able to escape in the summers to live on a farm. When her mother was managing her great Uncle’s hotel in the summer, she was able to spend time in the Catskills (an area northwest of New York City, not mountains but rolling hills, plateaus). She loved sports even though she wasn’t really allowed to play them, (“Girls were not supposed to be interested in sports” she says.) She played volleyball at Girl Scout camps she attended.

Dr. Sandler is a busy and active lady, always working for the equality of women. In trying to get a hold of her, she was out of town on business but still made the time to answer my questions. She is a part of many women’s rights club and is always contributing to these foundations. She works to improve awareness of women's issues with her many articles as well as ways to prevent and treat a victim. Her articles include "Friends Raping Friends: Could it happen to you?", "Campus Gang Rape: Party Games?", "Women and Mentoring: Myths and Commandments", etc. She also puts up a tremendous fight to end sex discrimination within a classroom setting and in the work force, more specifically, in higher education. This is known by many with the popular title “The Chilly Climate”.
She helped pass Title IX and filed the first sex discrimination cases against 250 institutions after the amendment was first passed. She is an active expert witness in these cases as well. She has written many articles and two books , "The Chilly Classroom Climate: A guide to Improve the Education of Women" and Sexual Harassment on Campus: A Guide for Administrators". She is currently working on her third, "Peer Sexual Harassment, K-12".
She has been quoted in the New York Times, Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated. She has also appeared on talk shows such as The Today Show, Larry King Live and Good Morning America.

The Way Dr. Sandler Became An Academic

Dr. Sandler didn't ever feel like she wanted to be a leader when she was younger. She didn't seek the position. She loved school though, and found fun in learning. She was competitive against boys explaining “There were two twin boys who were smarter than me and that bothered me because I wanted to be first and wasn’t!” She didn't shy away from her roles. She didn't become successful for the recognition or respect at all but was given respect because she accomplished a lot. (Interview with Dr. Sandler)

She says she was elected head of her class in 3rd or 4th grade but that was the only leadership role she ever took when she was young. She didn't want to be a leader. At that time girls were not encouraged to be dominant as leaders. She did take some leadership roles in an all girls camp she always went to. She was "always on camp council" and enjoyed it.
But as for women's issues she was never trying to command and dictate things. She just started doing things for causes she cared about and people "identified me as a leader because I was getting a lot of things done." It just happened naturally without her control, which is ideal for a role model. It took her a while to recognize herself as a leader. She just wanted to help the women she felt needed support and guidance. She definitely also wanted to make sure that other women felt comfortable and encouraged to speak up.
She received her Bachelors degree with cum laude honors from Brooklyn College, majoring in psychology. She then proceeded to get her masters in Clinical and School Psychology at the College of the City of New York. As if this wasn't enough education and work, she still went farther. I believe it was because she realized that she could have a great affect on many people and would like to contribute to the education of others, and in particular women. She got her teaching certificate/education degree in Counseling and Personnel Services at the University of Maryland.
During and after school she took an active approach to making women feel safe, comfortable and respected in a college atmosphere within the classroom as well as walking the streets of a university. Her famous book and article “The Chilly Climate” had something to do with some sex discrimination she experienced in her childhood. The word “discrimination” didn’t really exist at that time, so what she was experiencing couldn’t be labeled but regardless it felt unfair to her. She says “when you don't have words like ‘sexual harassment’ or ‘sex discrimination’ it is hard to think of something as a pattern or even to conceptualize about it.” In her school there were some duties and opportunities that females were not allowed to perform or participate in. She says what disappointed her was “ that girls couldn't be crossing guards, or run the slide projectors, or go to the basement to fill a large ink bottle which would then be used to fill the small "ink wells" on everyone's desk.” But she only saw this as frustrating or disappointing. She never realized at that age that she could do something about it. (Interview with Dr. Sandler)
She also showed great concern and support to the equality and respect shown in job opportunities in higher education. This led to the passing of Title IX. All this work and educational foundation as well as her passion to improve the environment of others have led the way to her being an academic as well as a role model.

Dr. Sandler's Teaching

She has many teaching strategies taught through her articles and activist explanations but she also has her own teaching strategies that have more to do with teaching rather than sex discrimination. She supports the book “The Feminist Teacher Anthology” that guides teachers on strategies for teaching. She is quoted to say, "For many years Feminist Teacher has been providing schoolteachers and college and university faculty members with information and classroom teaching strategies…This anthology of the 'greatest hits' from Feminist Teacher's first ten volumes will be an inspiration to educators and thinkers in all sectors of education."
Dr. Sandler got her Educational degree in Counseling and Personnel Services and has taught at quite a few different places. She was a part-time lecturer at the University of Maryland. She was also an instructor at Mt. Vernon College and a research assistant at the University of Maryland. She also has experience teaching in other areas that are not as prestigious. She was a teacher at a nursery school as well as a guitar instructor. Her expertise stretches far and wide. She is not useful in only one area of knowledge and she continues to work hard now putting all of her theories and guidelines, her hard work for people to consider and take advantage of. She is a true example of someone working FOR the people.

Her teaching abilities are displayed in every part of her work. None of her research has gone unnoticed or become unuseful. Her methods and statistics are shared with people all over the world through the internet, books, magazine articles, newspapers and most influentially through her personal presence in her presentations. She gives many lectures and speeches to universities, board members and people in the workforce about issues she has worked hard to research. This is one of her biggest contributions through teaching. She has definitely excelled at teaching. She not only provides people with knowledge of the problems with the equality of women but also the next steps to fixing these problems and changing the atmosphere for female students.
In “The Chilly Classroom Climate” she explains more specifically the guidelines for teaching. First there are bullets to recognize if the classroom is being taught favorably in a certain way through the subjects of “communicating lower expectations for women” subconsciously such as “asking women easier, more factual questions” and “men the harder, open-ended ones that require critical thinking.” Even to as small as calling “males ‘men’ and women ‘girls’ or gals” is degrading and suggests different maturity levels as well as certain potential. There are also issues about treating the same problems or praises differently between sexes such as labeling “the women who ask extensive questions as trouble-makers and men as interested and bright.” This specific evidence to a discriminated classroom makes it easier for teachers to realize and change. A main strength in Dr. Sandler’s way of getting information across and enlightening those who pay attention is her ability to change complex problems with extensive issues into simple guidelines. One does not have to be a sociologist or study sociology or women’s studies to understand her ideas to better the situation for women.

Also, thereafter she explains stereotypes between genders and tries to bridge the gap from stereotyping, by explaining why we label in that way but also what is “generally” true among these stereotypes and why it is that way. “The differential use of speech and language” is one topic in mind with examples such as “women are more likely to use questions to maintain a conversation, even if they know the answer,” while “men are more likely to use questions to obtain information,” or “men are more likely to listen to the first part of a statement and then almost immediately develop a response in preparation for competition in the conversation.” (Chilly Climate) This comparison helps to understand the differences between men and women but not to make one superior and one inferior but understand the equality and difference. For Dr. Sandler, I think the first step to changing the atmosphere inside the classroom is to realize the problems and these guidelines have helped make that happen. With these guidelines it is easier to formulate what not to do instead of just realizing there is a problem generally but unsure of the next step. Dr. Sandler breaks it down. Her ideas of teaching are going step by step, (baby steps) and analyzing things to the point of making it simple to understand for all levels of education.

Community Action/Activism/Involvement

Dr. Sandler has been very active in applying her theories and beliefs about issues into the real world. Her activism and community involvement started in high school when World War II was going on. There were many after-school activities promoting the saving “of fuel (coal mostly)”. All the activities at that time were geared to the war. She and her friends would package “scarves and hats for England”. Even in the Girl Scout Camp she attended for three different years, everything was geared toward the war. “We worked on farms during the day and had camp activities during the night and weekend. We helped harvest the crops because most of the young men were in the war.” So already, as young woman she knew the idea and power of community involvement in the support of causes. These experiences probably helped her in her own activism.
She has created and been a part of many women's groups. Of course, one of the biggest and most extensive projects for women's rights that she instigated and fought for publicly was the passing of Title IX. ("Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 is the federal legislation that prohibits educational institutions that are receiving federal funding of any sort -loans, contracts, grants, etc.- from discriminating against students or employees on the basis of sex.") Her interest in the passing of Title IX started when she was turned away from an interview because she "came on too strong for a woman."
The work that went into the passage of Title IX was extensive and frustrating but she had the help from the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL). Together they started a campaign to end sex discrimination within higher education and job opportunities. She gathered 80 pages of documentation to go with the complaint to make it more affective. 200 copies were sent to the press and members of congress. This started a huge uprising in the US, women spoke out from all over the country trying to support by offering their own personal experiences. There were seven days of hearings on account of discrimination and with all this work and more, the amendment was passed. ( "Too strong for a woman"--the five words that created Title IX)
Title IX has created equal treatment and opportunities for women to participate within educational programs as well as clubs and sports that are funded by the school. Women are not discriminated against in science or math clubs or majors as well as the in the medical field. This law has created this equality for women’s opportunities. It also has caused a lot of controversy for college athletics. Equal opportunity for men and women means that some of the budgets for male sports teams need to be cut to provide a fund for female sports teams. Women are given equal opportunity to participate in a sport regardless if sports are still gender separated. There has been a lot of controversy because people are complaining with the cutting of funds but in turn it has opened a lot of doors for female athletes.
She also did more than 2500 presentations about certain issues as well as strategies to regulate and make a safer environment. These presentations were out to change the problems women were facing. This included sexual harassment, gang rape, sex discrimination and her famous Chilly Climate in the Classroom. The articles/books she writes about these issues not only include subtle signs and warnings of what is happening but also ways to change the situations from ever occurring. As a teacher and administrator, she wrote guidelines to regulate behavior in the classroom by identifying what is wrong. Most people who write books about issues have really heated and frustrated viewpoints but never do anything to fix the problem. Dr. Sandler has been very active and intelligent in her ways of changing the atmosphere for women.
She is an expert witness in higher education for sex discrimination and sexual harassment. She created and was the editor for a quarterly newspaper called "About Women on Campus".
She's a senior associate for the Center for Women Policy Studies. She is a senior scholar for the National Association for Women in Education. She is also an executive associate and Director of the Project on the Status and Education of Women. She was the deputy director for a women's action program.
She currently is a "senior scholar at the Women's Research and Education Institute in Washington DC and is also self-employed." She is also an "adjunct Associate Professor and the Hahnemann School of Medicine."


Dr. Sandler has done many works and has many strategies for progression. She is famous for having set up easy and simple guidelines and steps to fixing the problems at hand, the unfair treatment of women. Judith Glazer-Raymo expresses her opinion of Dr. Sandler’s work in a review. She compares Bernice Sandler to Robert Shoop as they both “provide a comprehensive handbook on the construction, enforcement, and legal implications of sexual harassment policies and practices in higher education.” Dr. Sandler does a good job of turning the theories and problems with society into action, something that will actually start changing the status for women instead of creating an interesting and intelligent discourse that is praised by many but not used beneficially. She was very determined to be educated but didn’t get stuck in it, instead decided to use her knowledge to educate others and progressively change the issues in question.

Her interest is all in the area of discrimination towards women and the rights they should have. She does careful analysis of rape, sexual abuse, harassment, discrimination in the classroom all contributing to the safety and equal opportunity for women. Her research is complicated, extensive and thorough but she in turn appeals to a larger audience with simple, easy and specific signs and steps. This is a closer analysis of one of her works.

In the article “Friends Raping Friends (TEST): Could it happen to you?” Sandler starts with a more basic style of writing, friendly to many women who need the help. She puts in scenarios so one can relate and directly figure out if what they experienced was rape. It also helps form a picture for the reader so as to be more cautious if a similar situation happens in the future. She presents the idea of rape and the distance most girls put it from happening to them. She emphasizes the stereotype of “a stranger jumping out of the bushes on a dark night and attacking someone”, and explains the rarity of that. She comes out to say that most rapes happen within closed doors with people you know, people you think you can trust. It happens many times while intoxicated or under the influence of something when judgment is impaired and emotions are heightened.

She defines all specific terms and explains some of the causes and how “communication is often problematical”. She emphasizes the confusion women feel with the fine line between rape and voluntary sex. Many women feel that it was their fault, an instant reaction to many things, having instigated it in some way, or gave the guy the wrong idea. Regardless, it should not be tolerated. Many women shy away from speaking out, which only makes them more vulnerable for a second time. She carefully divides the line between seduction and rape, which is very important.

She leads specific ways to avoid situations with rape, although it is never completely avoidable but one could put them in a possible situation if not careful. It’s frustrating that women have to be careful all the time. She has many bullet points, being careful to be very specific because the broad ideas are hard to apply to one’s own life. With Dr. Sandler’s guidelines you can identify with the situations and see clearer precautions.

There are many other sections with bullets detailing every situation as well as condition, a section for men to realize there is no expectation of sex such as “It is never OK to force yourself on a woman, even if
· You’ve had sex with her before
· Dresses provocatively or leads you on
· You’ve paid for her dinner or given her expensive gifts
There is also sections about specific guys to watch out for, and guidelines of what should be done if you are about to be raped, and then most importantly what to do if you are raped, and how you can help someone who is raped and so on.

In the section with guidelines to be done in the situation before possible rape she says:
· Say “no” strongly. Do not smile; do not act friendly or polite.
· Use intimidation, tell him you have herpes or an STD
· Fight back physically- punch him in the Adam’s apple, poke your finger in his eye, hit him with a lamp or other item.
But importantly stressing differently if the man is armed
· Try to talk him out of it
· Try passive resistance

These are real and specific situations that a woman can directly apply and use to help someone and avoid a situation. It is not some theory explaining the problem in society; it is a direct way of fixing it. This is Dr. Sandler’s method of change; ACTION. I have personally found a lot of help through studying her articles and through her activist footsteps. (Friends Raping Friends)


Dr. Sandler has received so many awards and has accomplished so much in her lifetime. She is currently a Senior Scholar at the Women's Research and Education Institute in Washington D.C. She developed and helped pass Title IX about sex discrimination in higher education. She also filed the first sex/harassment charges against almost 250 universities and colleges. Her awards include: ten honorary degrees (last in 1998), Leadership Matters Award, Institute for Educational Leadership (1997), Woman of Achievement, Turner Broadcasting System (1994), American Association of University Professors (1991), Woman of Distinction Award, National Association for Women in Education (1991), a part of the nations 100 most important women (Ladies Home Journal) and also in Who's Who of American Women, The International Who's Who of Women, and Who's Who in America.
She received the Georgina Smith Award as well. The
Georgina Smith Award is given in memory of Georgina Smith, obviously, "who was a committed feminist and a strong supporter of her local faculty union". The award is given to someone who has "provided exceptional leadership in a given year in improving the status of academic women or in academic collective bargaining and through that work has improved the profession in general." I see how Dr. Sandler is a fit for this award. The award is not given out annually (forced) but only given if it is truly deserved and there is notice to a certain individual with outstanding performance for women. This makes it more of an honor.
She also received the Anna Roe award from Harvard University in 1988. Anna Roe was a University of Denver graduate who excelled as a professor in her life. She was a professor at Harvard University which she thrived at. She was made "Professor Emerita at Harvard University, she was awarded the rank of full professor in 1963-the ninth woman to achieve it in the three-hundred years of Harvard's existence.". She was a prestigious and successful woman in her time and opened up the path for women. Dr. Sandler mirrors this image as well and so it is no wonder she was awarded this honor.
Dr. Sandler has successfully given over 2,500 presentations about "issues, concerning policies, strategies, practices and model programs" on the subject of sex discrimination and abuse against women which is also a huge accomplishment in her career.

Interesting Facts

Dr. Sandler is a personality and has many things to offer to everyone she meets.
Her favorite childhood memory is her summers that she spent on a farm and later at the Catskills, both very rural and she said she “had lots of unsupervised time and lots of outdoor space”. She loves the outdoors!

She loved swimming in summer and playing ping pong (She was pretty good at it).
She used to play these two games called stoop ball and punch ball in the city. Stoopball was “hitting a ball against the steps of the homes” and punch ball was “like baseball but using a small ball which you threw up in the air and punched and then ran to the bases.” She said “We played this in the middle of the street with the bases on the curbs.”
She hates dodge ball because you get hurt.
In PE in college she enjoyed “soccer, fencing and modern dance enormously”.

She kept active later in her life as well as now. “In my late forties I started to run and was addicted to it -- would run 5-6 or even 7 mornings a week. I had a t-shirt made that said "world's slowest runner," which I was. I ran for about 7 years and cried when I had to stop because of my knees. Now I do low impact aerobics, walking and a lot of stretching and weight lifting (free weights).”

After she started running she “sometimes ran at night or in the dark in the morning, I bought myself a bright orange reflective sash to wear across my chest and over my shoulder because it reminded me about the sashes the boy crossing guards wore.” She shows some resentment and pride wearing the sash as a symbol of the job she, as a female wasn’t allowed to hold in school.” (Interview with Dr. Sandler)
*picture is not of Dr. Sandler. It is just a random ping pong team from the '40s.