Sadker Equity Awards



Mary Mazzio —
2003 Myra Sadker Equity Award Winner


Introduction to award presentation by David Sadker

Among the things Myra loved were movies and Boston. She loved the power of film to both move and educate, and coming from rural Maine to attend school in Boston, that city was filled with exciting possibilities, and ideas, and memories. It was in Boston that Myra and I met, attended graduate school, and taught in the local public schools. So having a film-maker from Boston recognized this evening would please her on several levels.

Mary is more than a film-maker. She is a former Olympic rower (1992-Rowing) and member of several US rowing teams, a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Georgetown Law School. In addition to her schools, Mary is willing to disclose her height, weight, and true hair color -- but refuses to disclose her golf handicap, particularly after her performance at the Drew Bledsoe Celebrity Golf Tournament where she participated as one of the few celebrities who nobody knew. She was, however, heckled by real celebrities -- NFL great Lynn Swann and Bobby Farrelly (producer of There's Something About Mary) noted Mary's spanking new golf shoes, purchased for the occasion. She heckled back.

Mary Mazzio's A Hero for Daisy was hailed by The New York Times as a "landmark film" and "fantastic" by Sports Illustrated, aired nationwide on ESPN, Oxygen, WGBH, and WTSN-Canada, and of course, right here 3 years ago as part of the Third Annual Myra Sadker Day celebration. A Hero for Daisy chronicled two-time Olympian and Title IX pioneer, Chris Ernst. In 1976, Chris galvanized her rowing team at Yale University to storm the athletic director's office to protest substandard conditions for the women. Nineteen women stripped, exposing the phrase "Title IX" emblazoned in blue marker on their bodies. As you might imagine, that drew some attention, including a story in the New York Times. The Yale phones started ringing, and surprise, surprise, just two weeks later, the women found themselves with new locker rooms. When the NY Times speaks, Yale listens.

A Hero for Daisy continues to inspire and energize people across the nation. For example, the father of a very tall 9 year old wrote to report that his daughter felt less bad about her appearance after seeing the film; parents have written to say that the film jump-started a dialogue with their teenage children; 40 Connecticut College athletes were inspired to take a stand with respect to inequity within their own athletic department; and a woman in her 50's was inspired to challenge the glass ceiling at her financial institution.

A Hero for Daisy is a graphic reminder that over the past decade, too many of us have become complacent about our rights protected by laws such as Title IX. The current administration has given us a wonderful gift: a lesson in how vulnerable and fragile such rights are. For the past two years, the Office for Civil Rights has not pursued any Title IX compliance reviews. Visit your own neighborhood school, and ask them who is responsible for Title IX: you will likely have a long wait to find out. And as if that were not enough, the President's Title IX commission, far from a balanced group of professionals, has examined Title IX in a partial, highly politicized manner. Although the evidence reveals that two-thirds of the typical college budget goes towards male sports, they concluded that two-thirds may not be enough, and have offered recommendations that might well increase that inequity. And the application of Title IX beyond the athletic field, in classrooms and in the way schools treat teachers and students, is not even on the radar screen. While our eyes are riveted on Iraq and Korea, our civil rights at home are in jeopardy. Every man and woman in this room will do well to remember Thomas Jefferson's advice: each new generation will need to win or safeguard its own rights, or run the risk of losing them. 

Today, we recognized two students, Christine and Kelly, who, like Chris Ernst at Yale, have made a difference in their schools. Their efforts have improved the quality of life for other students. We need a new generation of women and men willing and able to fight for Title IX, and for the rights of all of us. We hope that some of those fighters for fairness are out there in the audience.

But fighting for fairness does not only happen in public settings; it happens at home as well. In Mary's latest film, Apple Pie, we learn useful lessons for guiding and raising children, children who grew to be noted athletes like Shaquille O'Neal and Mia Hamm. Apple Pie has been called "warm and illuminating ... told with deftness and emotion ... priceless" by The New York Times, and "fantastic" by National Public Radio. We are pleased to have Mary here tonight to share the story behind her newest film: Apple Pie.

Talented, committed people like Mary Mazzio use media to teach and to motivate us. She is a Renaissance woman and a treasure, and Myra Sadker Advocates is proud to recognize her with the Myra Sadker Curriculum Award.

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