ASU to pay homage to Title IX, 40 years of opportunity


October 31, 2012

Editor's Note: Title IX week at ASU – Follow us at ASU News and on Twitter for articles, op-eds, photo galleries and videos, as ASU professors, legal scholars, coaches, student-athletes and faculty and staff address the impact of Title IX, as well as discuss what work still needs to be done.

The week of Nov. 5, ASU will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX – the federal legislation that paved the way for equal opportunities in education and sports for women and girls. Download Full Image

That young women today find it difficult to imagine a world with barriers to education and other gender inequalities speaks to the impact Title IX has made over the last four decades.

Up until 1970, it was not uncommon for women applicants to be routinely denied access to sports clubs and university programs. ASU's late economist and Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom, considered a pioneer in her field, said she had been steered away from her high school math courses and later dissuaded from studying political science in college. At the time, the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields were thought to be the exclusive domains of men. 

"There was a time (in the not so distant past) when it was not common for women in the U.S. to gain admission to undergraduate programs in physics – in fact, they were actually discouraged from even applying," says Tirupalavanam Ganesh, assistant professor of engineering education in ASU's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. "The social structures that Title IX helped create have been essential to simply give women access to science and engineering degrees."

However, Ganesh says, there is more work to be done, particularly in the STEM fields.

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Nov. 5-11 – Title IX Week at ASU:
Email us
and share your Title IX story/photos.

Monday, Nov. 5: Charli Turner Thorne's live interview on Twitter – 10-10:30 a.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 7: Title IX panel event at Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa – 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 11: Sun Devil women's basketball opens season in Wells Fargo Arena; honors "Title IX 40" – 2 p.m.

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While some argue Title IX has not done enough in the equality realm – equal pay is still an issue – there is great evidence of progress. More women than ever before are receiving advanced education degrees – many of them in fields from which they were once denied access, such as law – and women now make up half the workforce.

Last summer in London – in what some have dubbed the "Title IX Olympics" – more U.S. women brought home gold medals than U.S. men. This Olympics feat could not have been possible 40 years ago when there was little support for women athletes and women's athletic programs.

Not the case today, say Christina Wombacher, director of basketball operations at ASU, and graduate assistant Wendy Woudenberg, who are coordinating the ASU women's basketball Title IX event, Sunday, Nov. 11, when the Sun Devils open the season against Texas Tech at 2 p.m., in Wells Fargo Arena.

In honor of 40 years of women's advancement in education and sports, Arizona State University and Sun Devil Athletics will honor 40 extraordinary individuals at halftime of the season-opening basketball game.

Some of the honorees include Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court; sportscaster Brad Cesmat; Lin Larsen, who was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008; Mary Littlewood, considered the founder of ASU women's sports; and Don Petranovich, who led the Winslow High School girls basketball team to eight State Championships and finished his career as the winningest coach in Arizona high school basketball history.

A post-game panel will discuss the impact and opportunities of Title IX.

ASU women's basketball head coach Charli Turner Thorne will speak on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the Title IX: Inspiring Opportunity event, co-sponsored by the ASU Alumni Association, the Sun Devil Club and the Women & Philanthropy group of the ASU Foundation for a New American University. The event is scheduled to take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa.

Turner Thorne also will be available for a live ASU Tweetup from 10 to 10:30 a.m., on Monday, Nov. 5, to answer questions about Title IX and the upcoming basketball season. Hashtag for the live Twitter interview is #ASUTweetup and #ASUWBBTitleIX.

Coverage of the 40th anniversary will continue all week, as ASU professors, legal scholars, coaches, student-athletes and faculty and staff discuss how the United States' social landscape has changed in the years since Indiana Senator Birch Bayh introduced the Title IX constitutional appendage that was signed into law by President Nixon as part of the education amendments of 1972.

Also up for discussion: ways we can build on the Title IX legacy of gender equality.

Britt Lewis

Interim Communications Director, ASU Library

As election nears professor discusses 'Radical Distortion'


October 31, 2012

John W. Reich, an ASU emeritus professor of psychology, recently published his second book, “Radical Distortion: How Emotions Warp What We Hear,” which focuses on research surrounding the decision-making processes of those who endorse extreme beliefs. The book seeks to make “a crucial first step toward creating a more civil society in which the value of a wide spectrum of views can be considered and appreciated.”

In a recent email interview, Reich discusses his background, the subject of his new book, and how Americans might benefit from this research. Download Full Image

Q: Tell me a bit about your background, and how that brought you to this topic.

A: My professional specialty is social psychology, which I taught in the ASU Psychology Department for 41 years before retiring a few years ago. The book summarizes some of the major theories and research findings in social psychology, applied to the issue of social divisiveness, hostile intergroup attitudes, and cognitive distortions as seen every day in our polarized and hostile American public discourse (and around the world as well, unfortunately).

Q: What was your primary motivation for writing this book?

A: [I wanted] to bring to the public’s attention a body of tested and reliable research information on biases in human communication processes; the biasing of our communications lies at the very core of this society’s divisiveness. I did my undergraduate and graduate doctoral training with the founders of this field of research within social psychology, so I have firsthand experience working in the field.

Q: In your book, you talk about something called “toxic speech.” What do you define as “toxic speech,” especially in today’s world?

A: By “toxic speech,” I mean one of two classes of speech/communication. Some speech may be highly prejudiced and even extremist, but that represents no societal problem at all if someone is expressing their own stand on some hot-button issue (such as politics, religion, social issues). I call that type of speech “radical supporting speech,” because the speaker is supporting his/her own particular point of view. For instance, we expect Ford dealers to praise, even extravagantly, Ford cars. Ditto for insurance companies. Naturally expect people to claim superiority for what they believe. That may be noisy, perhaps irritating, but it is not a social problem. 

But there is a second and much more dangerous form of hot-emotional advocacy, and that is when the radical speaker is attacking someone else’s beliefs. I call this “radical attacking speech.” An example would be what media people are calling “negative advertisements” when reporting on political speech, particularly during election time. The minute a “radical speaker” starts stating negative things about their “opponent,” then they will be attacked in turn, and then they will retaliate, and so on and on. To attack is to invite retaliation, as we see in hot-button issues. It becomes “toxic” because the entire realm of discussion and discourse becomes poisoned by attack, counter-attack, and retaliatory counter-attack. We are seeing our public discourse degraded by endless hostility in our communications because of the seemingly inevitable exchange of hostilities.

Q: You go on to say in your book that such radical speech can affect the public’s ability to form objective judgments. How does this happen?

A: This radical and hostile negativity is poisoning the public because such polarizing speech receives widespread coverage by the media. Research is showing that the public is not as polarized as the leaders of the public media and the political parties who thrive on polarization. But the extremism broadcast by the national media gets adopted by the individual exposed to it.  

This occurs through what I call in the book “the endorsement process.” It is a step-wise process: The individual is exposed to radical speech by impressive, colorful and well-paid public media “experts” and becomes influenced by it.  Once they endorse that speech as their own, then they become “radical hearers” – my term for people who adopt the extremist opinions expressed by the public figures they want to emulate. 

Q: It seems like the book is pretty timely, especially as the United States is leading up to an election. How can the nation benefit from the research that you present in this book?

A: My hope is that people will see the dangers of radical speech and the dangers of adopting the judgment mindset of radical hearing, and will reject such extremism. In fact, l use the very same research findings revealing the effects of bias on our beliefs, and then turn those same findings into seven steps which, if followed, will reduce the toxic effects of radical speech.

It is up to the individual to learn the dangers of radical hearing and then change their own behavior by applying the seven systematic steps in their own life. We are all in this together, and it is up to the individual to reject extremism if we are to regain our sense of national unity, now seriously undermined by extremists.

“Radical Distortion: How Emotions Warp What We Hear” is available now from Prometheus Books at http://www.prometheusbooks.com/

Juno Schaser

Event coordinator, Biodesign Institute

480-965-0014