ZOOM - Inequality Discussion Group - Celene Reynolds

Event Date

04/21/2020 - 11:45

Celene Reynolds (Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow, Sociology)

Bio: Celene Reynolds is a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University, with affiliations in the Department of Organizational Behavior and the Center for the Study of Inequality. She received her PhD in Sociology from Yale University in 2019. Her research interests include social change, law and organizations, and gender and sexualities. Her current research centers on understanding why antidiscrimination law is used and interpreted differently in organizations over time. Her book (under contract with Princeton University Press) examines this question using the case of Title IX, the 1972 U.S. civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Her research has received support from the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, and the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy and won awards from the American Sociological Association. She has published in Social Problems, Organization, Qualitative Sociology, and Socius.

Title: Transforming Title IX: How Sexual Harassment Became Sex Discrimination in American Colleges and Universities

Abstract: Sexual harassment is one of the most urgent problems facing American higher education today, and Title IX requires schools to address it. Yet, Title IX was not created to combat sexual harassment, nor does the statute even mention sexual harassment. This talk examines how sexual harassment became unlawful sex discrimination in education under Title IX. Triangulating multiple data sources across two linked cases—including federal policies, court records, student newspapers, documents from four different archives, and 31 key informant interviews—I trace the development of this new use for Title IX at Yale University and its initial diffusion to the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1970s. I show that the politically productive interactions between people protected by a law and lawyers advocating on their behalf played an important role in this transformation of both Title IX and the concept of gender inequality itself.