A game changer for women, Title IX turns 40 this weekend

While people associate Title IX with sports opportunities for women, the original law did not mention athletics by name. (AP Images.)

While people associate Title IX with sports opportunities for women, the law did not mention athletics or sports. (AP Images.)

Saturday marked the 4oth anniversary of Title IX, a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs and activities operated by recipients of federal funds.

Signed 40 years ago by Richard Nixon, the law 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.”

Title IX’s protection applies at all elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities—public or private—that receive federal financial assistance, and at certain other educational institutions. The protection extends to all aspects of these institutions’ education programs and activities. Title IX prohibits all forms of sex discrimination, including gender-based harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.

It is interesting that Title IX is most often associated with opening the doors for women to play school sports.

As a story in the AJC notes:

The words “sports” or “athletics” are not even mentioned in Title IX. At a time when women earned 9 percent of all medical degrees and just 7 percent of law degrees, {Sen. Birch} Bayh and the other Title IX supporters were simply hoping to provide more opportunities for women in higher education, give them a better shot at higher-paying jobs.

“It was clear that the greatest danger or damage being done to women was the inequality of higher education,” Bayh said. “If you give a person an education, whether it’s a boy or girl, young woman or young man, they will have the tools necessary to make a life for families and themselves.”

But just as admissions numbers and financial aid fell under the broad definition of “education program,” so, too, did athletics.

“Sport is an educational opportunity. You learn about yourself and the world through sport,” said Angela Ruggiero, president-elect of the Women’s Sports Foundation and a member of the 1998 U.S. team that won the first Olympic gold medal in women’s ice hockey.

It wouldn’t be enough for schools to tack sign-up sheets on a bulletin board and count that as a team, or clear out a storage closet and call it a locker room. Title IX called for equal opportunity to play, and that meant schools had to offer scholarships and provide the same access to equipment, coaching and facilities.

Some prominent coaches and athletic directors, worried that Title IX would gut football, pushed to have revenue sports — namely football — excluded from the compliance formula. But their attempt to amend the legislation in 1973 backfired. Spectacularly.

The Department of Health, Education and Welfare was instead ordered to develop a framework for how Title IX was to be interpreted and followed, with most of the regulations addressing athletics. It was these rules, issued in 1975, that provided the backbone for the legislation and have allowed it to withstand repeated challenges in court.

Here are some highlights from a federal report by the US DOE Office of Civil Rights on the enforcement of Title IX and the challenges that remain:

•While women and girls have made great progress in an array of fields of study, female students remain underrepresented in many of the most rigorous math and science courses…the data sample reveals that more girls than boys are enrolled in Geometry and Algebra II, but girls remain underrepresented in Physics and AP Math (Calculus and Statistics) and are less likely to take and pass AP tests than their male peers.

•In higher education, in 2008-09, women earned fewer than 18 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences, and women from underrepresented minorities earned less than 7 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences. Similarly, fewer than 17 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in engineering were awarded to women, and less than 4 percent were awarded to women from underrepresented minorities.

•Boys take AP tests and pass AP tests at a higher rate than girls. In fact, 73 percent of boys enrolled in an AP course took an AP exam, compared to 70 percent of girls. And 60 percent of boys passed an AP exam, compared to 55 percent of girls.

•Girls represented 42 percent of the interscholastic athletics participants and 49 percent of enrollment in schools. 35 percent of the schools offering interscholastic athletics reported a gap of 10 percentage points or more between the percentage of girls enrolled and the percentage of athletes who are girls.

• Fifty-five percent of students bullied or harassed on the basis of sex were female, although females represent 51 percent of the population; 79.6 percent of students disciplined for bullying or harassment on the basis of sex were male.

•About one in five women will be a victim of actual or attempted sexual assault while in college, as will about 6 percent of undergraduate men. Public high school students reported nearly 3,600 incidents of sexual battery and over 600 rapes and attempted rapes in a recent year.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

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[...] A game changer for women, Title IX turns 40 todayAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Today marks the 4oth anniversary of Title IX, a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs and activities operated by …A whole generation gained an educationWilkes Barre Times-LeaderObama Administration Commemorates 40 Years of Increasing …eNews Park Forestall 632 news articles » [...]

Good Mother

June 23rd, 2012
8:11 am

Yet today, football reigns and sucks the life-blood out of the schools, regardless of gender, everyone loses when football is the focus on our society…particularly the victims of Jerry Sandusky. This “all-male ” “sport” was more important that the lives of innocent children.

Whirled Peas

June 23rd, 2012
8:17 am

Don’t you just hate those men. They spend all that money going to football and baseball games. Money that we could use buying cool shoes and going to the hairdresser. We want our civil rights.

SEE

June 23rd, 2012
8:44 am

EXCUSE ME, but when it comes to education, girls have all the cards in their hand. Boys are the ones falling behind, but the feminists don’t want to do anything about that. They want all the focus and resources to be on the girls. Here is the true story:

“In the United States, girls capture more academic honors, outscore boys in reading and writing, and score about as well on math at the fourth- , eighth- and 12th-grade levels on the National Assessment for Educational Progress exam. Internationally, fourth-grade girls significantly outperformed boys in the eight leading industrialized nations that took part in the 2001 Progress in International Literacy Study. And 15-year-old boys have been surpassed by 15-year-old girls among the 28 countries involved in the 2000 Program for International Student Assessment.”

Also:

“By almost every benchmark, boys across the nation and in every demographic group are falling behind. In elementary school, boys are two times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and twice as likely to be placed in special-education classes. High-school boys are losing ground to girls on standardized writing tests. The number of boys who said they didn’t like school rose 71 percent between 1980 and 2001, according to a University of Michigan study. Nowhere is the shift more evident than on college campuses. Thirty years ago men represented 58 percent of the undergraduate student body. Now they’re a minority at 44 percent. This widening achievement gap, says Margaret Spellings, U.S. secretary of Education, “has profound implications for the economy, society, families and democracy.”

Here’s another:

“In contrast to conventional wisdom, high school girls in California public schools are enrolling in most science and math courses at higher rates than boys, according to a new study by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). In courses that fulfill entrance requirements for the University of California and California State University systems, girls enroll at higher rates in all subject areas except computer science. However, girls continue to lag behind boys in enrollment in some Advanced Placement (college level) math and science courses.”
While this is in California, it represents what is going on in the rest of the country. California has one of the largest school age populations in the country.

You only need to google boys falling behind in education and tons of documented information comes up. This is the real story, so what is the AJC really complaining about? Are they bemoaning the fact that girls aren’t outperforming boys in ALL areas. I thought Title IX was supposed to enforce gender and racial equality, so when there is so much evidence that boys are being discriminated against in our education system, why does the AJC only focus on girls? Why isn’t the story of what is happening to our boys in education being told? Where’s the equality for boys?

I’m waiting for an answer…

oldtimer

June 23rd, 2012
9:01 am

And in 2006….my low rading class was all boys….22 of them who had never passed a CRCT…..

Ben

June 23rd, 2012
9:18 am

Who cares? Physically, men will always be on top whether it’s in bed or in life. The only thing that keeps things as they are is federal law and lawsuits. One day the natural order will return to how it should be as it is in the wild kingdom of animals. Until that time let the females savor their “equality”.

catlady

June 23rd, 2012
10:03 am

I pre-date Title IX. The differences in opportunities for women is astronomical. I’m not sure most people realize that. I know I tell my daughters about things that happened to me, and they don’t believe it. (Colleges closed to women, bankers wanting to know what kind of bc you use before making a loan, no girls’ sports other than track and field in high school)

And, SEE, you are right about many boys not doing so well now, Of course, before Title IX the outcomes were reversed–women were much less likely to graduate from college. Now, however, the opportunities are there. The difference is that, in the past, the opportunities were NOT there, no matter how much effort you made, all on the basis of your genitalia.

catlady

June 23rd, 2012
10:08 am

I remember reading an ethnographic study where one of the findings was that, when things are equaled out in terms of classroom attention, boys perceive it as a loss.

Whirled Peas

June 23rd, 2012
10:34 am

Catlady, If you believe the crap they feed you in ethnographic studies, you deserve to be in the special ed class.

Tony

June 23rd, 2012
10:48 am

Like all other federal acts, the rules have been taken to the extreme. Even in cases where there is no interest on the part of females to take advantage of athletic scholarships, colleges have been forced to cut male scholarships in response because of the equity rules that are so strictly enforced. personally, I believe the act has run its course and should be repealed.

William Casey

June 23rd, 2012
11:35 am

TITLE IX is the best thing that ever happened to female athletes and good for men as well. My sister, Madeleine, was a First Team All-State basketball player and MVP of the State Tournament in 1968 while attending Southwest DeKalb. Guess what? Nothing happened. Yeah, she could have played at any college but there were no full-ride scholarships forthcoming so she gave up the sport. Women’s basketball was not the big deal then that it is today. Unimaginable in 2012. Fair is fair and we are a better society for it.

@TONY: “Even in cases where there is no interest on the part of females to take advantage of athletic scholarships, colleges have been forced to cut male scholarships…” Could you present SPECIFIC EXAMPLES of this happening?

catlady

June 23rd, 2012
11:51 am

I stand by my statement, Whirled Peas. BTW, it is actually Dr. Catlady, PhD from University of Georgia, 1995. My dissertation was NOT an ethnographic study, but with almost 40 years of teaching I can say that I have observed when ANY previously dominant group experiences the “others” getting a more fair share of attention, etc, the dominant group feels they have lost something. Some even feel treated UNfairly.

What do our boys need to do? In my area, it would be to put up the Nintendo, put up the huntin’ dog, and spend time reading and doing other things that lead to academic success. Focus on doing well in school, not paying car payments on that Mustang or Chevy truck.

Shar

June 23rd, 2012
11:55 am

Like catlady, I predate Title IX. My daughters take for granted opportunities and choices that I never even imagined. @SEE, if Title IX evened out opportunities and now girls are able to compete with and best boys, why is that unfair? Can you really believe it is better for girls to be discriminated against in order for boys to feel successful? Surely competition raises the performance of all – at least, that is what we’re told in other spheres.

I agree that boys’ classroom performance has fallen behind girls’, but I don’t think that lifting discriminatory practices is to blame. I have long thought (and observed with my own son) that boys learn differently and benefit from more active engagement than sitting in a classroom throughout an entire school day permits. It’s not the fault of Title IX or of girls, but of a one-size-fits-all approach that rewards girls’ earlier maturity and punishes boys’ need for kinesthetic learning.

Shar

June 23rd, 2012
11:56 am

Sorry, DR. Catlady and I predate Title IX!

Ken Brady

June 23rd, 2012
12:03 pm

I am a man who remembers when Title IX was passed, and I think it was a very important moment in our history. Women AND men make our nation great. ~Ken Brady http://www.kenbradynow.com

bu2

June 23rd, 2012
12:15 pm

Title IX has not been good for male athletes. That’s absurd. Numerous men’s sports have been cut at the college level and schools are adding equestrian and rowing and giving scholarships in them to comply with Title IX. They are actually out recruiting athletic women who have never rowed to give them scholarships.

Yes, women were discriminated against before. But the interpretation has been carried to absurd extremes.

Once Again

June 23rd, 2012
12:24 pm

Actually Title IX was a game changer for boys/mens sports. As a result of this mindless law, male sports have been decimated nationwide. Plenty of sports in plenty of schools do not attract women. As a result of the stupidity of this legislation men’s sports teams have been summarily shut down “to make things equal”. Congratulations, government at work destroying america again.

The ADA is a similar law that has had the uninteded (but completely predictable – if you aren’t a bleeding heart liberal) effect of grossly increasing unemployment among the handicapped. Employers are afraid to even touch someone who might have a disability as they have no idea just HOW MUCH money they will be forced to spend to accomodate this person’s disabilities.

Get government money completely OUT of the market and get government regulations completely out of the market. Let schools run on their own, employers run on their own and let people work out arrangements that are to their mutual benefit.

William Casey

June 23rd, 2012
12:57 pm

The cutting of male sports (if it exists, I see no specifics) is a school decision. Blaming Title IX is specious. Spend some of that ESPN money.

Whirled Peas

June 23rd, 2012
1:29 pm

Catlady, you can take your PhD and your big jar of arrogance and take it to the grocery store and see what they will give you for it.

I am about to attend the 50th reunion of my elementary school class. The most successful graduate was a mediocre student who couldn’t spell well. But he was mechanically inclined. He became the foremost mechanic for a grain harvester company, and they would fly him around the world to repair their equipment. He made a small fortune and in so doing improved the world’s ability to provide food for the hungry. He has worked hard providing something much needed. But he is lacking your PhD and your ego. I’m sure you think the is not paying his fair share and would tax him more so you could improve the salaries of teachers with PhD’s.

LarryMajor

June 23rd, 2012
1:36 pm

So, why does Ivy Prep qualify for federal funding?

SEE

June 23rd, 2012
1:39 pm

I agree with Shar. My experience as a teacher (and, as a special education teacher, I teach all boys) is that boys have a difficult time learning because they need to Do to learn. It is not because boys are lazy, but because they are left out of the school experience. The teachers are overwhelmingly female and tend to feminize learning (i.e. downplay competition, promote group learning, etc), boys are expectated to sit still and communicate with words (males, as a group, are not as adept at this), and boys are expected to do these things at a much younger age (males mature later than females). All of this effectively frustrates males at a young age and sets them up for failure. All the focus and resources are being directed at females, leaving the boys out in the cold. It’s not something boys perceive…it is what is happening. To say otherwise is to stick your head in the sand and not acknowledge the TONS of data that prove this fact.

SEE

June 23rd, 2012
1:51 pm

Shar, I don’t want Title IX taken away, I want boys to benefit from it. I think the teaching practices in which we engage are discriminatory to boys. We need to provide more resources on how to help boys succeed. I want there to be equitable treatment so that both sexes can achieve. We can’t just focus on one gender to the exclusion of the other.

David Granger

June 23rd, 2012
2:42 pm

If Title IX has…in an way…led to women outperforming men in the academic classrooms, then so be it. Men have no right to complain.
Men DO have a right to complain about the decimation of the athletic programs that have been eliminated in order to comply with Title IX. Football, of course, is the enormous cash cow that both has a lot of players, but it also helps to pay for a large university’s entire athletic program. What should be done is that…if a sport is a money-maker (such as football at Alabama, or women’s basketball at Tennessee or Connecticut), then those teams should not be figured in with Title IX compliance.

Prof

June 23rd, 2012
2:49 pm

It seems to this professor also predating Title IX that this law sought equality in educational programs and activities operated by recipients of federal funds, which happened to include sports. EQUALITY. Not superiority, but equality. And just in the one limited area of programs and activities, not all of education. I agree that to a significant extent, K-12 education today needs to consider male as well as female ways of learning, but that has nothing to do with Title IX.

It’s a matter of public tax money being available to all taxpayers, not just one group of them. And that includes the available scholarships.

Prof

June 23rd, 2012
3:15 pm

I should add that the benefits of Title IX for women have gone far beyond sports in schools, for it became the best legal tool against sexual harassment in the workplace. In the 1970s several (female) lawyers handling such a case successfully argued that sexual harassment violated Title IX since it could be considered discrimination against women. It was gender-based behavior that was not equally extended to all the employees, men as well as women (or, if the harassment was of men, women as well as men).

William Casey

June 23rd, 2012
4:36 pm

@Whirled Mechanic: What does a talented mechanic have to do with Catlady’s Ph.D? I don’t see the logic other than some people don’t need a Ph. D. to make a good living. Best I can tell, Catlady never said that they did. I’m asking because I date a Full Professor Ph. D. I don’t have one but it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

William Casey

June 23rd, 2012
4:37 pm

Should have been @Whirled Peas.

[...] Downey’s Get Schooled has a good overview of Title IX and, as you will see, anti-women rhetoric is commonplace in the [...]

NTLB

June 23rd, 2012
5:36 pm

In regards to society’s views on the gender roles—not much has changed.

catlady

June 23rd, 2012
6:29 pm

Whirled peas–we will always need good mechanics. My son is one also.

Rockerbabe

June 23rd, 2012
6:58 pm

Catlady; I too pre-date title IX. I went to duPont Manual HS in Louisville, KY from 1966-1970 and there where absolutely NO sports opportunities other than cheerleading [a grand total of 32 positions out of a school of 3000]. I came out of a small catholic school in which I played volley ball well enough to go to the state finals, I played softball and swam. But in HS, nothing, absolutely nothing. The principle’s comment was that “sports was not feminine”. When confronted about the reality of catholic girls HS and their sporting endeavors, which were fantastic, he would just snicker and dismiss you.

The University of Louisville, back in the early 1970’s wasn’t any better either. All the money, all the sports scholarships, all the coaches and all of the sports equipment went to the men. How sad.

I am so happy that my nieces and they young women of today are getting the opportunities I was denied. Hoorah for Title IX!

Ken Brady

June 23rd, 2012
8:28 pm

Excellent piece! Title IX gave (and continues to give) women something very important…a fair chance, and greater freedom. And this makes ALL AMERICANS (men and women) stronger. A tribute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozGow8f12AM

Archie

June 23rd, 2012
10:30 pm

Most everyone on this particular posting deserves an “A” for keeping it real and not feeding the trolls!

Lee

June 24th, 2012
12:09 am

I also seem to recall several college sports being eliminated at some schools because they tried to establish a women’s team and there was no interest in it, but then you had one flaming feminazi who insisted on playing with the boys team, so the college just shut the boys team down as well.

BTW, the womens teams would have come eventually when there was a grassroots support for them. What Title IX did was artificially create a demand which in turn hurt womens sports for a significant period of time.

Atlanta Mom

June 24th, 2012
12:38 am

“I should add that the benefits of Title IX for women have gone far beyond sports in schools”
That’s what the younger posters here just don’t understand. Back in 1973, on a job interview, I inquired: How much time will I spend out of town? The response, from a big eight accounting firm was: We don’t send our women out of town, the wives don’t like it.
Title IX was huge, in so many ways.

Atlanta Mom

June 24th, 2012
12:40 am

Lee
” the womens teams would have come eventually when there was a grassroots support for them.”
I’ve heard that same excuse for why the civil war shouldn’t have been fought. Eventually the south would have given up slavery.
Uh, huh.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

June 24th, 2012
5:29 am

Did I mishear Frank Defore say, “The percentage of participants in NCAA-sanctioned sports fielded by a school must be reflective of the percentage of each gender’s enrollment in the institution?” For example, were a school’s enrollmenr 60% female, 60% of its athletes would be required to be female.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

June 24th, 2012
5:30 am

Must practice meye prufreedin’.

Tony

June 24th, 2012
7:31 am

One example of Title IX taking away a men’s program. The news here omitted some of the details that were in the hometown paper. Their details showed that women simply were not applying for the scholarships and the disproportionate numbers of men were forcing the change in its program.

http://jacksonville.com/sports/basketball/2012-03-28/story/st-johns-river-state-college-trustees-unanimously-vote-drop

Sad but true

June 24th, 2012
10:00 am

It all makes wonderful sense … until those women become mothers themselves and observe firsthand what turning the natural order on its head does to their own sons and grandsons.

Aquagirl

June 24th, 2012
10:09 am

These “what about the MENZ!!!!!!!!” posts tell us just why Title IX is a big deal. They’re unintentionally providing proof why it’s needed. Thanks boys!

Sad but true

June 24th, 2012
10:42 am

Archie: Your readers (if any) may be forgiven for wondering WHICH side in this issue has historically included the most “trolls.”

B. Thenet

June 24th, 2012
12:06 pm

Lost in the gains that young women have made, are as some have mentioned the step backwards by young men over the last 40 years, if I am not mistaken women now outnumber men when it comes to college enrollment. The wholesale destruction of so called “minor” mens sports like wrestling as budget casualties due to Title IX has left young men with less athletic opportunities, and the stats regarding athletic participation in high school and graduation rates speak for themselves.

It has been a great step forward for young women, but let’s not forget that some of that was at the expense of young men. A much more flawed legacy for the program than many are willing to admit.

Brad Sanders

June 24th, 2012
12:18 pm

Title 9 killed boys/mens sports like tennis, golf and wresteling. Football and basketball remain unscathed. The jocks still rule. Unfortunately, it’s their world.

Prof

June 24th, 2012
12:26 pm

@ Lee, June 24th, 12:09 am: ” I also seem to recall several college sports being eliminated at some schools because they tried to establish a women’s team and there was no interest in it, but then you had one flaming feminazi who insisted on playing with the boys team, so the college just shut the boys team down as well.

BTW, the womens teams would have come eventually when there was a grassroots support for them.”

1) I don’t at all understand why that one female wasn’t allowed to join the boys’ team when there was no other alternative for her. To use the old-time expression, were the boys afraid she’d give them “cooties”?

2) But there WAS a “grassroots support” for women’s sport teams; that’s why Title IX was passed, by a mostly male Congress at the time btw.

@ B. Thenet. June 24th, 12:06 pm.

You seem to suggest that the main reason young men go to college is to participate in the sports programs. Isn’t this rather sexist?

Jeff

June 24th, 2012
1:22 pm

The people who are such big fans of “proportionality”; will you advocate taking steps to rebalance the male/female percentages in the population of college students as a whole?

Or is the fault of men when women are under represented and also the fault of men when women are over represented?

Bernie

June 24th, 2012
1:48 pm

Maureen, Unfortunately the “REAL” game changer for ALL of the Women of America and Georgia is what has been transpiring in many of the Republican Led State Legislators around this Great NATION in regards to WOMEN.

You are being remiss by not pointing out that FACT, despite the many gains achieved by the successes of Title IX.

WOMEN of this Nation are now faced with a elected leadership that is not only against the personal freedom of women, but are outright HOSTILE and are trying to reverse many of the hard fought gains of Yesterday.

Hopefully, come November the Women of America will “STAND UP” and say “NO” to everything REPUBLICAN. It is only the fair thing to do In light of their collectively saying “NO” to the women of America.

catlady

June 24th, 2012
1:52 pm

Enter your comments here

Tech Man

June 24th, 2012
1:54 pm

As a “Title IX Dad” I am so thankful the opportunities provided. Because of Title IX my daughter and her teammates learned the value of team, improved self-esteem and learned a valuable way to make a great impact in their daughter’s lives.

Because of Title IX my daughter is in her high school’s hall of fame and has her jersey retired. She is in her college’s hall of fame and because of athletics she was able to graduate college, obtain her masters, 2 specialists degrees and is close to obtaining her Doctorate without any college debt. Because of Title IX she has impacted the lives of many high school and college students.

Thank you Title IX.