AAUW Celebrates 38th Anniversary of Title IX with Calls for Greater Enforcement

June 22, 2010


Lisa Goodnight, goodnightl@aauw.org


Landmark Law Can Help to Close Gender Divide in Math and Sciences

WASHINGTON — On this 38th anniversary of Title IX, AAUW celebrates the progress made under the landmark civil rights legislation designed to break down gender barriers in education and athletics. Signed into law on June 23, 1972, by President Richard Nixon, Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities.

“AAUW was instrumental in the passage of Title IX, which is often described as one of our country’s greatest civil rights success stories,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “Title IX has created positive change for nearly four decades, especially in greater sports participation by women and girls. We know that high school girls who are involved in sports are less likely to experience an unintended pregnancy and are more likely to have a positive body image compared with girls who aren’t athletes. One study found that women who played sports growing up had a lower obesity rate even 20 to 25 years later in life.”

Though widely associated with athletics, Title IX can also play a vital role in increasing gender equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education by improving the climate for women in those fields. While women have made impressive gains in historically male fields such as business, law, and medicine, they make up only 25 percent of the labor force in science, engineering, and technology fields. AAUW’s 2010 report, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, profiled eight key research findings that point to environmental and social barriers — including stereotypes, gender bias, and the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities — that continue to block women’s progress in these typically high-wage fields.

“We have seen a 900 percent increase in the number of girls playing high school sports. Imagine if we could increase the numbers of girls taking AP calculus and AP physics to the same degree? Title IX is about ending gender discrimination in all aspects of education,” said Lisa Maatz, AAUW’s director of public policy and government relations. “While we are encouraged by the efforts of the newly reinvigorated Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education, AAUW believes that the administration and legislators can do more to put teeth into Title IX enforcement.”

To that end, AAUW is urging Congress to strengthen Title IX’s protections in high school by passing the High School Athletics Accountability Act (H.R. 2882) and the High School Sports Information Collection Act (S. 471). These bills would make participation rates and expenditures for high school athletes available to the public, helping communities better enforce Title IX in high schools across the nation by shedding light on the current status of programs.

AAUW is also urging the Department of Education to engage in more Title IX technical assistance and compliance reviews generally, especially with respect to improving the climate in science and math programs.

In April, AAUW praised the Department of Education for issuing new Title IX athletics guidance, an action that gave women and girls a better shot at fair play by rescinding the deeply flawed 2005 “Additional Clarification of Intercollegiate Athletics Policy: Three-Part Test – Part Three.” Previously, schools could use nonresponses to a spam-like e-mail survey to demonstrate a lack of interest in athletics and use that as basis to justify cuts to women’s programs.

“While we are still making great strides under Title IX, there is more work to be done,” Hallman said. “AAUW and our members are tireless in our efforts to ensure that Title IX provides the opportunities to girls and women that it has promised for the last 38 years.”


By:   |   June 22, 2010