Title IX Essay

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The 1960s and 1970s were a tumultuous time in America’s history. Many changes occurred within the population, the culture, and the politics of that time period. Women were demanding equal rights, and one of the primary areas in which they wanted this equality was education. In 1972, the educational amendments passed in the U.S. Congress including Title IX, which promised that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” This entry looks at the law and its impact.

What The Law Says

Although Title IX covers all programs that receive federal funds, the main focus has been on athletics, specifically college athletics. This seemed to be based on the assumption that athletics was where the greatest disparity existed between men and women. Before Title IX, the Encyclopedia of Women’s Sports found that only 1 percent of the average athletic budget went to women’s sports. Stereotypes of female athletes led many women to avoid sports altogether. In education, many colleges maintained quotas that limited the number of women who could enter certain programs. Even newspaper classified advertisements separated jobs by gender.

These disparities caused many women’s organizations and leaders to call for the federal government to address the gender discrimination. In the summer of 1970, Representative Edith Green (D–Oregon) chaired a special subcommittee on education. The goal of these hearings was to amend gender discrimination in federally financed programs, including higher education. The hearing covered more than 1,000 pages of inequity grievances that ranged from classified advertisement separation to gender stereotypes. The women who presented these grievances made demands for equality in employment procedures, salary, federal income tax, and Social Security benefits. The result of these hearings was the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which passed through Congress and was signed on June 23, 1972, by President Richard Nixon.

In order for schools or programs to be deemed in compliance, they must adhere to one of the three options (or prongs) listed in Title IX: (1) The number of available opportunities for each gender must be proportional to the number of each gender’s interest and numbers on campus; (2) the school must show a history of program expansion in response to interest and abilities of each gender; (3) the school must show that its present programs address interest and abilities of each gender. Thirteen programs are typically addressed to evaluate compliance, and they include, but are not limited to, practice facilities, times, coaching staff, and financial assistance.

Impact And Critique

Because the wording of Title IX was so vague, the prongs so flexible, and the original enforcement so lax, it has received many criticisms and setbacks during its tumultuous history. College administrators, coaches, and male athletes argue that Title IX costs more money and forces some men’s programs to be cut. Many of these dissenters also disagree with the federal government’s threat and mandate to withhold federal funds if schools are not found in compliance. During the late 1990s and early part of the twenty-first century, lawsuits have been presented arguing that the proportionality clause hurts other men’s programs. The majority of these lawsuits have ruled in favor of the female plaintiffs. In 1996 and as recently as 2002, Congress has upheld the three-prong test, with only one of the prongs needed for compliance.

Even with its dissenters, delays, and slow enforcement, Title IX has made tremendous improvements for women and has opened the doors to education and athletics at all levels of schooling for women. In academics, Title IX has opened the doors to many more professional degrees for women. Terry H. Anderson reported that in 1970, women made up only 1 percent of engineers, 2 percent of dentists, 3 percent of lawyers, and 7 percent of physicians, whereas recent statistics now report that in 2003, women accounted for 9 percent of civil engineers, 7 percent of electrical engineers, 28 percent of lawyers, and 30 percent of physicians. Nelly Stromquist found that in 1971, women made up the following percentages of degrees: 44 percent of bachelor’s, 40 percent of master’s, 16 percent of doctoral, and 6 percent of professional degrees (including chiropractic, dentistry, law, medicine, pharmacy, podiatry, theology, and veterinary medicine). By 1989, these numbers had increased to 52 percent, 52 percent, 36 percent, and 36 percent, respectively.

In athletics, Title IX has opened the doors to education at all levels of schooling. Linda Jean Carpenter and Vivian Acosta have found in their research that in 1971, there were only 30,000 college women participating in sports. In 2002–2003, the highest number to date of high school and college students participated in athletics, and women made up 41 percent of these. In 2002, 42 percent of all college athletes were women (150,000). In the 1970s, 294,000 high school girls participated in sports compared to 3.7 million high school boys. In 2002, the numbers were 2,856,358 and 3,988,783 for girls and boys, respectively. In 1972, the average number of female teams per college was only 2.50, whereas in 2004, this number increased to 8.32.

Title IX has helped women gain better access to both education and athletics. This access has helped women achieve equal treatment with men but also has enabled them to improve their own self-concepts. Today’s young women are continuing to build on the work of their predecessors as they continue their achievements in both athletics and academics.


  1. Anderson, T. H. (1995). The movement and the sixties. New York: Oxford University Press.
  2. Carpenter, L. J., & Acosta, R. V. (2005). Title IX. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  3. National College Athletic Association. (2004). 2004 NCAA Graduation-Rates Report. Retrieved November 18, 2005, from http://www.ncaa.org/grad-rates
  4. Professional women: Vital statistics. (2004). Retrieved November 11, 2005, from http://www.pay-equity.org/PDFs/ProfWomen.pdf
  5. Sherrow, V. (1996). Encyclopedia of women and sports (Vol. 1 ed.).
  6. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Stimpson, C. R. (Ed.). (1973). Discrimination against women. New York: Congressional Hearings on Equal Rights in Education and Employment.
  7. Stromquist, N. (1993, Winter). Sex equity in education: The state as promoter of women’s rights. Review of Educational Research, 63(4), 379–407.
  8. Thelin, J. R. (2000, July-August). Good sports? Historical perspective on the political economy of intercollegiate athletics in the era of Title IX, 1972–1997. Journal of Higher Education, 71(4), 391–410.

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