"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, Education Amendments of 1972On June 23, 1972 Title IX was passed by Congress, and on July 1 Richard Nixon signed the law that ensured equal funding for men's and women's educational activities, including (and probably most well known) sports.
Today, with women enrolling in college at higher rates than their male peers, we may wonder why such a law was ever needed. So let's not forget why the rule was written in the first place...
Prior to the passage of Title IX:
- Many schools prohibited female students from enrolling in "male" classes like auto mechanics and criminal justice.
- Male students were not allowed to take home economics.
- Most medical schools limited the number of women admitted to 15 or fewer, as did law schools.
- Double 1964 Olympic gold medal winner, swimmer Donna de Varona, was not eligible for college swimming scholarships. For women those scholarships did not exist.
- In a 1971 ruling that prohibited a female cross country runner from joining her high school's team, a New Haven Superior Court Judge was quoted as saying "Athletic competition builds character in our boys. We do not need that kind of character in our girls."
- In 1967 a Boston Marathon race official tried to wrestle Katherine Switzer off the course because women were not allowed to run.
Today we are not surprised to learn that more than half of finishers in road races are women (53%, according to 2010 statistics from Running USA), but it wasn't until 1984 that women were allowed to run the marathon in the Olympics. (Surely Flanagan, Davila, and Goucher are glad that rule changed before they entered kindergarten, but it did change after our 2012 Olympic marathon team was born.)
Granted, after forty years of legal protection, participation is still not even across all sports. According to the NCAA Gender Equity Report 2004-2010, almost no women play football and almost no men play field hockey. But the playing field is more level than it ever was, and for that, I say:
Happy Birthday Title IX