Public Opinion, Crisis, and Vulnerable Populations: The Case of Title IX and COVID-19

James N. Druckman, Elizabeth A. Sharrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A central function of democratic institutions is to protect vulnerable populations. The stability and success of these institutions depends, in part, on popular support. Times of crisis can introduce novel dynamics that alter popular support for protective institutions, particularly among those who do not benefit from those protections. We explore this possibility in the context of Title IX's gender equality requirements and infrastructure to address sexual harassment in college sports. We conduct a large survey of college student-athletes to study their attitudes on these issues in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and concomitant financial challenges affecting college sports. We find that male student-athletes and those with sexist attitudes exhibit alarmingly low levels of support for ensuring the maintenance of equality and sexual harassment policy under Title IX during the COVID-19 crisis and eventual recovery. The results accentuate the vulnerability of certain populations during crises and the importance of maintaining strong institutional policy support during such times.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1084-1092
Number of pages9
JournalPolitics and Gender
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Title IX
  • coronavirus
  • gender
  • policy feedback
  • public policy
  • sexual harassment
  • vulnerable populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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