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Molly Peirano

Title IX and the future of gender equity on college campuses

Posted on: June 21, 2022; Updated on: June 21, 2022
By
Page Ivey, pivey@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-3085

Molly Peirano, a University of South Carolina alumna who recently led Title IX engagement
and education initiatives at Ohio State University, has been leading the university’s
new Office of Civil Rights and Title IX.

On the 50th anniversary of Title IX, UofSC Today talked with Peirano about her plans and goals
for the office and the future of the landmark civil rights regulation that prohibits
sex discrimination in any education program receiving federal funds.

Historically, Title IX has focused a lot on athletics, how would you describe the
future of Title IX?

Often when I’m trying to explain what Title IX is, I start back at the beginning.
There was a woman at the University of Maryland who earned her Ph.D. and, when she
was trying to get hired, would hear things like, ‘We already have a woman in this
department.’ ‘You come on too strong for a woman.’ Her name was Bernice Sandler, went
by Bunny. And she’s actually known as the ‘Godmother of Title IX.’

Sometimes we forget that this started as a faculty issue. When people look back at
history, they think a lot of the athletic aspect, which was very important and brought
a lot of attention that was well deserved. Now I would say we’re more in the era of
sexual misconduct and preventing it, keeping people safe.

But I do hope that we can bring some of the attention back to faculty issues and employment
and scholarship. Even though we’ve made great strides in equity in those areas, we
have a ways to go.

The main message I want people to get is ‘We want you to be treated well by us and
by one another, regardless of what your identity is.’

What is a contemporary issue that is being seen on campuses that you would like to
address?

If you look at the number of tenured faculty, you will still see that women are behind
in those spaces, even just looking at the sheer number. I think looking at those pieces
is helpful. Another part that often is not talked about in Title IX is pregnant and
parenting students, who are protected under Title IX.

I am working on a Ph.D. and that’s my area of study. And I can tell you over the last
four years, there has been more research done in that space. How do we support pregnant
students — keep them on our campuses, accommodate them so that they can have their
children? Or if they have a miscarriage, are they able to re-enter or maybe not even
leave, just have accommodation? I think that’s an area that has not gotten the attention
that it deserves.

What has been your first order of business in this position?

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