Yale University Study Documents How Title IX Complaints Have Changed Over the Years

A new study by Celene Reynolds, a Ph.D. student in sociology at Yale University, tracks the changing use of Title IX over time in response to perceived gender disparities, and systematically analyzes how the law has been mobilized at the federal level through complaints filed against four-year non-profit colleges and universities.

The study examined all resolved postsecondary Title IX complaints filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights from 1994 to 2014. The data shows that complaints citing discrimination in academics were the most common type filed for nearly all of the last 20 years, while athletics complaints were the least commonly filed. Complaints alleging schools violated the law by mishandling sexual harassment began to rise in 2006, skyrocketing in 2009, and nearly equaling athletic and academic filings by 2014.

According to Reynolds, this new research fills an important gap in the sociological literature and illuminates a pressing social transformation affecting campus life across America. “This study shows how a powerful legal tool is employed in response to perceived gender inequality in higher education and illustrates the specific kinds of disparities that elicit legal mobilization,” Reynolds said. “The mobilization of Title IX is institutionally uneven relative to student enrollment, with the study’s findings showing that more complaints are filed against private schools that are highly selective.”

Reynolds is a magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where she majored in sociology. She holds a master’s degree in social sciences from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in sociology from Yale University. She is expected to complete her doctorate in 2019.

The study, “The Mobilization of Title IX Across U.S. Colleges and Universities, 1994-2014,” was published in the journal Social Problems. It may be accessed here.

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