Title IX is a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972 which 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..." This federal civil rights law prohibits sex discrimination in education and has helped to eliminate and prevent barriers to students' success in school. It has helped open the door for girls to pursue math and science, provide fair treatment for pregnant and parenting students, and helps in protecting students from bullying and sexual harassment. (40th Anniversary of Title IX, 2013). And while the law applies to all aspects of educational opportunities, it is probably best known for its application to sports and for its action in breaking down barriers in sports for women and girls. (The Next Generation of Title IX: Athletics, 2012) Title IX requires that schools provide male and female students with equal opportunities to play sports, give male and female athletes equal shares of athletic scholarship dollars, and provide equal benefits and services to both males and females in areas such as facilities, coaching, and publicity. (The Next Generation of Title IX: Athletics, 2012)
Forty years ago, Title IX was passed and began leveling America's playing fields. In these 40 years, opportunities for female athletes have dramatically increased but inequality is still present. Thanks to Title IX, girls and women are playing sports at earlier ages and in much greater numbers than ever before, but they still face many hurdles on the road to equality. Before Title IX, only 1 in 27 girls played high school sports. College scholarships for female athletes were nonexistent and female college athletes received only two percent of overall athletic budgets. (Athletics Under Title IX, 2013) In 1972, only 295,000 girls competed in high school sports, compared to 3.67 million boys. By 2010, the number of girls participating rose to 3.2 million. (The Next Generation of Title IX: Athletics, 2012)
Yet despite the immense progress Title IX has made over these past few decades, opportunities for girls are still not at the level that boys' were in 1972. Schools still provide 1.3 million fewer chances for girls to play sports in high school compared to their male counterparts. (The Next Generation of Title IX: Athletics, 2012) Collegiate women receive only 44% of the athletic participation opportunities although they make up more than half of the students at NCAA schools. (Athletics Under Title IX, 2013) Female athletes at the typical Division I school receive approximately 28% of the total money expenditure on athletics, roughly 31% of the recruiting budget, and 42% of the athletic scholarship dollars. (Athletics Under Title IX, 2013) Although sports participation rates have grown for both males and females, girls’ participation is still below boys, and increases among females have plateaued the past five years. And male participation in high school and college athletics has continued to increase since title IX’s enactment. (Title IX at 40: Working to Ensure Gender Equity in Education, 2012)
Additionally although since Title IX, opportunities for female students have increased, opportunities for female professionals have declined. (Rhode/Walker, 2008) In 2008, only 43% of coaches of women's teams were women, compared to in 1972, where it was over 90 percent. (Athletics Under Title IX, 2013) The number of men’s teams with a female head coach remains at less than 2%, as it has been since the 1970's. Fewer than 17.7% of all college teams are lead by a female coach and less than one fifth of all top athletic administration jobs are given to women. Women hold only 35% of all athletic administrative positions and a mere 19% of head administrative jobs in women’s athletic programs. In Division I schools, only 8% of athletic directors are female. (Rhode/Walker, 2008) Female coaches of women’s teams have been found to win fewer championships than their male counterparts. When counted, six intercollegiate women’s sports had never had a team win the national championship with a female head coach and soccer has only had one. (Rhode/Walker, 2008)
So despite the enormous progress of Title IX, significant gender disparities still remain and the rate of change has decreased. Only small advances have been noted since the early 1990's. Many experts believe that the vast majority of schools are in fact, not in compliance with Title IX policy. The mean gap between the proportion of women students and women athletes is 13.2%. (Rhode/Walker, 2008) This is an important issue because girls are being denied the health, academic, and economic benefits that accompany participation (The Next Generation of Title IX: Athletics, 2012). Research shows that girls who had opportunities to play sports because of Title IX had a 7% lower risk of obesity 20 to 25 years later when they were in their 30-40's. Female athletes have higher levels of self-esteem, less depression, and a more positive body image than non-athletes. Female student-athletes are also less likely to smoke or abuse drugs. They have lower rates of both sexual activity and pregnancy than non-athletes. (The Next Generation of Title IX: Athletics, 2012). Female student-athletes are more likely to graduate from high school, have higher grades, and score higher on standardized tests than non-athletes. They are also more likely to succeed in science classes than their non-athlete peers. (The Next Generation of Title IX: Athletics, 2012). Athletic participation also helps in future employment and economic security. A study concluded that an increase in female sports participation leads to an increase in women’s labor force participation later on and greater female participation in previously male-dominated occupations, especially those of high-skill and high-wage. (The Next Generation of Title IX: Athletics, 2012)
Title IX has made way for countless new opportunities for female athletes. It has transformed the way athletics is seen by the public, and the role our youth plays within it. Our world would not be the same if it weren't for this law. Though it has had incredible success, we clearly have a long way to go. Gender discrimination and inequity is strongly ingrained into our athletic systems and it will no doubt take a long time to change. Title IX has paved the way for female athletics these past forty years, and the momentum and awareness it has provided will allow for even greater future progress.
Deborah L. Rhode, Christopher J. Walker (26 March 2008). GENDER EQUITY IN COLLEGE ATHLETICS: WOMEN COACHES AS A CASE STUDY. Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Lisa Maatz, Fatima Goss Graves (2012). Title IX: Working to Ensure Gender Equity in Education. Retrieved from http://www.ncwge.org/PDF/TitleIXat40.pdf National Women's Law Center. (June 2012). The Next Generation of Title IX: Athletics. Retrieved from http://www.nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/nwlcathletics_titleixfactsheet.pdf (2013). 40th Anniversary of Title IX: The Next Generation. Retrieved from http://www.titleix.info/Resources/News-Articles/40th-Anniversary-of-Title-IX-The-Next-Generation.aspx (2013). Athletics Under Title IX. Retrieved from http://www.titleix.info/10-Key-Areas-of-Title-IX/Athletics.aspx