Though slowly more females participated in sports throughout the U.S. and additional women’s events were added to Olympic Games, discrimination was rampant. Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 helped decrease discrimination to an extent, ruling that “No person…shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance.” Prior to this, if there were no girl sports teams, girls usually could not participate in organized sports. The feminist movement and women’s impressive athletic performances also helped slowly change some of the attitudes and rules restricting all women from sports.
This change is reflected in women’s participation in the Olympics. According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), during the 1970s a significant increase of women participants in the games occurred, reflecting, they believe, the “increased awareness of the positive contribution that sport can make to the well-being of women and the development of women's sports clubs and associations around the world.” In response to the increase, the IOC opened more events to women.
The American Olympic athletes on the following webpages are women who have excelled in some way. Many were pioneers in their respective sports and events, other broke records and made history through their amazing achievements in sports and in leadership positions within the Olympic organization, and all of them helped to break down the prejudice opinions about women’s athletic capabilities.