Title IX, the landmark Gender Equity Act passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972, prohibited sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. Its protections would open doors for girls and women in admission, academic majors, teaching positions, vocational programs and individual courses, and help ensure equality of access and treatment once they have left. ‘they entered.
“It was at a time when there were a lot of barriers for women to progress or succeed in society,” says Karen Hartman, associate professor at Idaho State University who has studied Title IX extensively. “The Education Amendments Act, and in particular Title IX, attempted to remedy some of these wrongs and provide more opportunities. ”
Yet despite its broad purposes and applications, Title IX is best known for its impact on expanding opportunities for women and girls in sport. In 1972, there were just over 300,000 women and girls participating in college and high school sports in the United States. Female athletes received 2% of college athletic budgets, while athletic scholarships for women were virtually non-existent.
By 2012, the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, the number of girls participating in high school sports nationwide had increased tenfold, to over 3 million. More than 190,000 women competed in varsity sports, six times more than in 1972. In 2016, one in five girls in the United States played sports, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. Before the adoption of Title IX, that number was one in 27.
“There was a way to see women’s sports [as] less than, ”says Hartman. “But if you look at women’s sports today, their level of competition with men is often on a similar playing field. We see athletics like we’ve never seen it before.
The Law on Civil Rights and Gender Discrimination in Education
The roots of Title IX can be traced back to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin, but made no mention of discrimination based on sex. Women were only included in the Civil Rights Act in Title VII, an amendment that addressed equal employment opportunities but did not apply to educational institutions, among other areas.
In the early 1970s, girls and women continued to face discrimination and unequal treatment in many areas of education. Female students were often excluded from certain courses or fields of study reserved for men, ranging from carpentry and arithmetic to criminal justice, law and medicine. Some colleges and universities in the United States have refused to allow women to attend or have established quotas that limited the number of female students, regardless of their level of qualification compared to male applicants. Others refused tenure of the professors, or refused to hire them at all.
Passage of Title IX and its impact on sport
In 1972, President Richard Nixon enacted Title IX. Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, who helped guide the bill in Congress, called it “an important first step in the effort to provide American women with something they are entitled to.”
By the time Title IX compliance became mandatory in 1978, the law had already had an impact on sport. In a cover story in June, TIME reported that six times as many high school girls participated in competitive sports in high school than in 1970.
“Women’s participation rates have exploded every year since the passage of Title IX in 1972,” Hartman said. “We are not only seeing how sport has become more culturally acceptable for women, but also how they have increased their competitiveness as well.”
The far-reaching impact of the law could be seen at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where American women dominated sports, from gymnastics to basketball to swimming. That year saw the largest contingent of American Olympians in history, with a total of 292 women and 263 men. By 1972, only 90 women had joined the US Olympic team of 428 athletes.
“It’s kind of like if you build it, they will come,” says Hartman. “If you give opportunities, you see how competitive and athletic all bodies can be, whether they are male or female. “
Controversy over the law
Organizations like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have challenged the legality of Title IX, while others have argued that it should only apply to educational programs that receive federal funds directly.
In 1984, the Supreme Court endorsed this interpretation in Grove City vs. Bell, effectively removing the coverage of Title IX of athletics, with the exception of sports scholarships. The passage of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 (over the veto of President Ronald Reagan) overturned that decision and restored broad Title IX coverage to any educational institution receiving federal funds.
The 1990s and beyond saw continued legal challenges to Title IX, as well as a number of lawsuits alleging breach of its protections. “In the decades since its passage, legal cases have attempted to provide more guidance for Title IX, and the Department of Education’s civil rights office has created compliance elements for this,” he said. Hartman said. “This path over 50 years has been bumpy….[and today] up to 80 percent of higher education institutions are still not in compliance.
According to Hartman, the Title IX controversy often centers on misunderstandings of the law, such as the mistaken belief that it requires quotas, or the idea that caused a decline in men’s sport. In fact, she says, participation rates for male athletes have increased steadily since the passage of Title IX. A special report released for the 40th anniversary of Title IX in 2012 found that NCAA member institutions recorded a net gain of nearly 1,000 men’s sports teams from 1988 to 2011.
In 2021, amid a wave of lawsuits filed after U.S. colleges halted their athletic programs due to financial pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic, the men’s track and field and cross-country teams of the ‘Clemson University have won a landmark settlement for their discrimination claim. on the basis of Title IX. As there were almost an equal number of male and female athletes participating in sports at Clemson in 2019-2020, the plaintiffs argued that the cuts meant the university no longer offered a fair number of opportunities under of the law.
Hartman believes the case provides further evidence that Title IX – though its ultimate promise may go unfulfilled – continues to move forward. “This is the heart of a great anti-discrimination law,” says Hartman. “Something that will bring men and women [together] to make sure there is fairness.