Honoring 50 Years of Title IX

College students study and socialize on grassy area in front of campus building.

Half a Century of Expanding Access to Education

With 37 words, Congress changed the face of education. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 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 education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Title IX is a landmark federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education. It protects staff and students in any educational institution or program that receives federal funds. Because the legislation requires schools to ensure all their policies and practices ensure equal access, it affects everything from admissions and athletics to STEM training and sexual-harassment policies. And AAUW is integral to its history.

Learn, Engage, Donate, Celebrate

You’re invited to mark this auspicious occasion with AAUW. We’re offering a range of options to learn more and get involved.

A Look at the History of AAUW and Title IX

“Only when each college and university commits itself to making the necessary changes to ensure quality education and equality of employment, regardless of sex, will it be possible for women to become truly productive human beings.”

– October 1972 AAUW Journal

For decades before and after Title IX was passed, AAUW contributed to this foundational law. A pivotal moment came at the end of World War II: While the G.I. Bill increased the number of men pursuing higher education, many academic doors remained closed to women. AAUW members worked to change that. They issued surveys to colleges and universities assessing the status of women on their campuses. By 1969, AAUW had conducted more than two decades of research, culminating in the report “Campus 1970: Where Do Women Stand?,” which documents widespread discrimination against women at all levels of higher education, from students to trustees.

AAUW President Mary Purcell in 1984 speaking at the Grove City College v. Bell Supreme Court Title IX case.

By the following year, 250 institutions of higher learning were facing charges of sex discrimination. AAUW made national news by distributing guidelines to the presidents of all four-year institutions in the country, titled AAUW’s Standards for Women in Higher Education: Affirmative Policy in Achieving Sex Equality in the Academic Community.

Title IX of the Education Amendments was enacted into law on June 23, 1972. It took another three years to develop sufficient regulations to enforce the law, leading AAUW to establish a coalition of 15 women’s and educational organizations. The National Coalition of Women and Girls Education (NCWGE) is still in operation today, providing Title IX guidance and enforcement recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education.