Thank You, Title IX

June 23, 2008

A poster on the wall in my office features caricatures of five women, each of them ready to play a different sport. One is kicking a soccer ball; another is twirling a basketball on her finger. They all stand behind a banner that says, “Thank You, Title IX.” While Title IX is widely known for creating opportunities for women and girls on the playing field, it does so much more. Monday, June 23, is the 36th anniversary of the law, and in honor of this, I hope we take a moment to celebrate all the law has done for women and girls in all areas of education.

Title IX states, “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 educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” In addition to athletics, Title IX affects access and admission to higher education, career and technical education, education for pregnant and parenting students, equity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, employment, sexual harassment, and single-sex education. Title IX has made it possible for women to pursue careers as lawyers, doctors, mechanics, and scientists — and as professional athletes.

Some say that Title IX served its purpose 36 years ago, but that it’s no longer needed today. While Title IX has definitely succeeded in opening doors in the classroom and on the athletic field, we know that inequities and barriers remain. Sex segregation in career education and tenure persist, sexual harassment in our schools remains pervasive, and women’s athletic teams receive only 33 percent of recruiting dollars and 38 percent of operating dollars. We should, without a doubt, celebrate how far we’ve come under Title IX. We can’t, however, afford to lose sight of how far we have to go or why we need Title IX along the way.

On this anniversary, we invite you to celebrate Title IX’s accomplishments by leaving your comments on how this law has affected you. Then, we ask you to continue your advocacy for the law:

  • Read AAUW’s press release on the anniversary and our position papers on Title IX’s impact on equity in school athletics, single-sex education, and sexual harassment.
  • Read AAUW’s new research report, Where the Girls Are, which shows that girls’ educational achievements have not come at the expense of boys.
  • Download AAUW’s Title IX Resource Kit for information on how you can advocate for continued enforcement of the law and draw public attention to all it has done for women and girls.
  • Finally, urge your representative to promote better enforcement of Title IX in our high schools by passing the High School Athletics Accountability Act (H.R. 901), which would require high schools to report basic information on the number of female and male students in their athletic programs and the expenditures made for their sports teams.
By:   |   June 23, 2008

4 Comments

  1. steffan says:

    May Title IX also be remembered for the men’s teams that have been abolished. May it be remembered for the boys and men who are not able to have opportunities open to them. And may we always remember that it is not applied to ever benefit men and is consequently a biased and discriminatory law. It may help women to have access to higher education but is the reverse true ? Should not Title IX now be applied to education programs ? Nursing ? Higher education in general ?

    A moment of silence for the evil perpetrated by this most hideous thing.

  2. saltlord says:

    steffan, I think you forget about the giant elephant in the room regarding teams being cut, MEN’S college football programs. They account for the largest proportion of scholarships in college sports and generate the most revenue for their institutions. In fact, 272 men’s AND women’s non-revenue generating sports were cut from NCAA participating institutions from 1988-2003 including women’s gymnastics and men’s wrestling teams. The issue really boils down to dollars and cents.

    I’ve read some of your other comments (Not Anti-Male and Sexist Slurs Possible for example) and with every response, your own extreme bias shines through. For HUNDREDS of years, the laws in this country were geared toward the benefit of one group. It really makes 36 years of increased opportunity pale in comparison.

  3. leciaimbery says:

    I’m afraid I have to disagree with your comment, Steffan. The argument that women’s athletic participation has increased at the expense of men’s opportunities has been refuted by many studies over the years. The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report in 2007 that studied whether men’s opportunities have decreased as a result of the increased opportunities for women. The report found that the numbers of both male and female athletic participants increased from 1991-1992 to 2004-2005, as well as that men’s participation levels were greater than women’s in both absolute terms and relative to perspective enrollments. In fact, the report found that men had significantly greater participation in athletics than women in 3 out of 4 coed NCAA schools studied. You can see the report at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07535.pdf.

    An earlier 2001 GAO report found a net gain in men’s sports teams added between 1984 and 2000. The report also found that the most frequent reason for discontinuing a men’s or women’s team was due to lack of student interest in the sport. While 180 men’s wrestling teams were discontinued during that time, 120 new men’s soccer teams were added, in addition to numerous other men’s teams. Smaller men’s teams are also often dropped to add more resources to larger, more expensive and more profitable teams like football and basketball.

    The 2004-2005 Sports Sponsorship Report by the NCAA shows that, while women comprise 57 percent of college student population, they receive 43 percent of the opportunities to play intercollegiate sports, and 33 percent of recruitment dollars. In addition, between 2003-2004 and 2004-2005, the participation of female college athletes at NCAA institutions increased by 3,976, while men’s participation increased by 5,529.

    What you call a “biased and discriminatory” law protects women and girls against discrimination. This isn’t a zero-sum game; men’s chances to participate in school athletics haven’t decreased at the expense of women’s opportunities. Blaming Title IX for athletics cutbacks only misdirects student and alumni anger.

    By the way, another one of Title IX protections involves the issue of sexual harassment. Because of the law, students – both male and female – are protected from unlawful sexual harassment in all of a school’s programs or activities, whether the harassment takes place in the facilities of the school, on a school bus, at a class or training program sponsored by the school at another location, and regardless of who the harasser may be. Further, while it’s clear that sexual harassment in the schoolroom and on college campuses disproportionately affects girls and women, boys and men experience harassment as well, and they too have used various Title IX remedies in an attempt to improve their situations.

  4. Sue says:

    Excellent job using the facts to put the record straight, Lecia and saltlord

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