Happy 40th Birthday, Title IX!

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. — 20 U.S.C. §1681

This short sentence, signed into law by President Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972, changed history for American women (and men). It is known as Title IX. An amendment to the education section of Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is commonly believed to apply only to equal opportunities for women in high school and college sports.  But it is meant to prevent all forms of gender discrimination in all schools which receive federal funding.

After its passage, President Nixon charged the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) to define the parameters of Title IX. The resulting ten key areas covered by the law are:

  • Educational Access
  • Athletics
  • Career Education
  • Education for Parenting and Pregnant Students
  • Employment
  • Learning Environment
  • Math and Science
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Standardized Testing
  • Technology
  • The legislation was the brainchild of Representatives Edith Green (Oregon), Patsy Mink (Hawaii) and Senator Birch Bayh (Indiana).  While there are still strides to be made in educational equality, here are a few “before and after” statistics about Title IX from Title IX: Working to Ensure Gender Equity in Education from the National Coalition for Women & Girls in Education (NCWGE):

    • Participation in organized sports by high school girls has increased ten times in 40 years. Involvement of women in collegiate sports has increased six fold.
    • PhDs for women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) increased from 11% of the total in 1972 to 40% by 2006.
    • The majority of Bachelors and Masters degrees are now earned by women.

    To learn more about Title IX, including criticisms, triumphs and the work that still needs to be done, we highly recommend the following two articles:

    Title IX: Working to Ensure Gender Equity in Education

    Faces of Title IX

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