Research Handbook on Feminist Jurisprudence
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Research Handbook on Feminist Jurisprudence

Edited by Robin West and Cynthia G. Bowman

The Research Handbook on Feminist Jurisprudence surveys feminist theoretical understandings of law, including liberal and radical feminism, as well as socialist, relational, intersectional, post-modern, and pro-sex and queer feminist legal theories.
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Chapter 17: Sex equality, gender injury, Title IX and women’s education

Katharine K. Baker


This chapter explores the notions of discrimination and gender injury that have animated the law’s attempt to secure equal educational opportunities for women, paying particularly close attention to the intersection of constitutional law and Title IX of the 1972 Civil Rights Act. By analysing two distinctive features of women’s education in the United States, single-sex colleges and single-sex sports teams, the chapter argues that much of the success of anti-sex discrimination measures in education is attributable to the modest, non-transformational goals that inspired both Title IX and the push for women’s equality generally. The contrast to race is particularly notable in this analysis. Title IX’s rejection of both anti-classification and anti-segregation principles – principles that have come to define how the law understands racial injury – allowed for more capacious understandings of sex equality to emerge. By emphasizing choice and opportunity, and by at times embracing difference, the legislative and administrative (though largely non-judicial) efforts to secure meaningful equality for women in education have been, in practice, transformational.

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