“Every time we play a game of football or grab our rods I see surprised faces and disbelief. They simply can’t grasp the fact that a girl can beat them down the field or catch a bigger fish than them.” -Torie
The height of the women’s civil rights movement in the United States brought along Title IX, a civil rights law that eliminated (or has yet to eliminate, depending on how you look at it) gender biases in all educational areas. Passed in 1972, Title IX provides girls and women equal rights to not only participate, but be supported and engaged in sports, areas of math and science, higher education and other learning environments.
In addition to that, pregnant or parenting people or people who have been pregnant cannot be discriminated against or pushed around by the school system rules in any way, and classes and career counseling cannot be tailored to the student depending on sex or gender. This includes things like funding and scholarships to what school you’re allowed to go to, to whether you can make up work you miss, to the right to not be teased for (for example) being one of the few girls in a welding class full of boys. Title IX also protects female staff from discrimination and female students from harassment from other students or teachers.
Before Title IX
- In 1972, women earned just 7% of all law degrees and 9% of all medical degrees
- In 1970, women earned only 13.3% of doctoral degrees
- Only one in 27 girls played varsity high school sports
- Women weren’t awarded athletic scholarships
After Title IX
- By 2001, females received 47% of law degrees and 43% of medical degrees
- By 2000, nearly half of all doctoral degrees are awarded to women
- By 2001, that figure was up to one in 2.5, for a total of 2.8 million girls playing high school sports
- By 2003, there was more than $1 million in scholarships for women at Division I schools
Although girls’ participation in high school athletics has soared, girls still get 1.3 million fewer opportunities to participate than boys. In college athletics, female participation has grown 520% but females still receive $176 million less in athletic financial assistance than males. These statistics prove that Title IX has indeed made beneficial changes to support females in their pursuit of a better life, but what underlies the statistics? What is the reality?
Call to Action
- “How Title IX Protections Can Help You” (PDF) is a great resource provided by the National Women’s Law Center
- National Organization for Women
- Title IX History
- Title IX Blog
- Women’s Sports Foundation
- Sports Solution to Gender-Based Violence about efforts in Africa
Share these videos:
- Title IX Public Service Announcement
- You Have the Right to Play
- Girls for Gender Equity
- V is for Victory. So is IX.
- Gender Equity in Sports: Respecting the Player and the Game
- Lobbying Congress
- Become part of the Title IX Action Network.
- Share your story on inequalities you’ve experienced in athletics with a Title IX legal team.
- “Find out whether male and female athletes receive equal benefits at your school, including:
- equipment, supplies (like uniforms), and funding
- scheduling of games and practice times
- opportunities for coaching and academic tutoring; practice and competitive facilities such as fields, courts, and pools
- locker rooms and shower facilities
- medical and training facilities and services
If you feel that your girls’ sports in your school are underrepresented, start a petition to demand fairness, demonstrate the power of girls and the respect you deserve. Also document incidents of verbal, physical and psychological abuse directed towards female athletes and lead the charge to your School Board for a policy that does not tolerate such behavior.
- File a formal complaint in your school or even to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. If school officials haven’t been doing their jobs in enforcing Title IX, a formal complaint can make the discrimination you experience (including athletic inequalities, sexual harassment, discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or parenting, inequalities in career or technical training, and single-sex education) known to people outside the school, people who probably have the power to make real change. Make sure to have names, dates, and descriptions of behavior or events.
- Contact your U.S. Representative and ask him/her to join nearly 50 other legislators who are co-sponsors of H.R.458, High School Athletics Accountability Act, which aims to collect information about the allocation of athletic opportunities and benefits is available to both girls and boys in grades K-12.