The Promise and Peril of Title IX Addressing Sexual Violence: A University Case Study, 1972-2017
Nona Gronert

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Wisconsin-Madison

Primary Discipline

My dissertation explores the effects Title IX has had on universities in addressing sexual violence. Title IX has transformed universities and curtailed other forms of gender discrimination, such as increasing funding for women’s sports, yet it has had less of an impact on sexual violence. Even though universities now devote considerable resources (staff positions, funding, policies, trainings) to prevent and respond to sexual violence as a problem of educational inequity, the incidence of sexual violence at universities has not substantially changed. I use newspaper and archival data supplemented by interviews to investigate the changes in activist demands, government policy, and administrative strategies to address sexual violence on one university’s campus from 1972 through 2017. The project (1) documents the changes at one university, paying attention to the interplay between activism, policy responses, and legal measures; (2) compares across time the institutionalization of strategies to address sexual violence; and (3) focuses on all members of the campus community, including staff, faculty, students, and administrators, to illustrate how their perspectives on sexual violence and Title IX enforcement were expressed and transformed. The research contributes to our understanding of current debates over sexual violence and Title IX in higher education by focusing on processes within a single university over time. The project highlights both barriers and facilitating structures for addressing campus sexual violence, providing research-based evidence on strategies for achieving gender equality in higher education.
About Nona Gronert
Nona Gronert is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is also affiliated with UW–Madison’s Sexual Violence Research Initiative. Her research explores the intersection of law, organizations, social movements, and gender. She studies sexual violence and sexual consent in U.S. higher education. Her dissertation uses a historical case study of one university to explore how strategies to address sexual violence are institutionalized, and how Title IX implementation has become part of student expectations, university structures, and administrators’ careers. Her other current project investigates how study abroad professionals perceive and address sexual harassment and sexual assault among university students enrolled in German study abroad programs. In addition to a NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, her research has been supported by UW–Madison’s Center for Research on Gender and Women, Institute for Legal Studies, Institute for Regional and International Studies, and Center for German and European Studies. Nona received her B.A. with honors in both Sociology and Spanish Literary Studies from Occidental College.

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