WEEA Equity Resource Center
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Resources to Infuse Equity

Title IX Before & After

Title IX was passed by the U.S. Congress on June 23, 1972, and signed by President Richard M. Nixon on July 1, 1972. It is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination in education programs and activities receiving federal funds. It was the first comprehensive federal law to prohibit sex discrimination against students and employees in these institutions.

While the link between Title IX and increased opportunities for women and girls in athletics is well known, the connection between this law and improvements in key areas such as access to higher education, career education, employment, learning environment, math and science, sexual harassment, standardized testing, and treatment of pregnant and parenting teens is not often noted.

Before Title IX:

  • Many schools and universities had separate entrances for male and female students.
  • Female students were not allowed to take certain courses, such as auto mechanics or criminal justice; male students could not take home economics.
  • Most medical and law schools limited the number of women admitted to 15 or fewer per school.
  • Many colleges and universities required women to have higher test scores and better grades than male applicants to gain admission.
  • Women living on campus were not allowed to stay out past midnight.
  • Women faculty members were excluded from faculty clubs and encouraged to join faculty wives' clubs instead.
  • After winning two gold medals in the 1964 Olympics, swimmer Donna de Varona could not obtain a college swimming scholarship. For women they did not exist.
(Source: Report Card on Gender Equity, National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, 1997)

After Title IX:

  • In 1973, 43% of female high school graduates were enrolled in college. This grew to 63% in 1994.
  • In 1971, 18% of young women and 26% of young men had completed four years or more of college; in 1994, 27% of both men and women had earned bachelor's degrees.
  • In 1972, women received 9% of medical degrees but by 1994 that number had moved up to 38%; 1% of dental degrees grew to 38% in 1994; and the percentage of law degrees earned by women had moved from 7% in 1971 to 43% in 1994.
  • Today, more than 100,000 women participate in intercollegiate athletics, a four-fold increase from 1971. That same year 300,000 women (7.5%) were high school athletes; in 1996, that figure had increased to 2.4 million (39%).
  • Title IX prohibits schools from suspending, expelling or discriminating against pregnant high school students in educational programs and activities. From 1980 to 1990, dropout rates for pregnant students declined 30%, increasing the chances the mothers will be able to support and care for their children.
  • 80% of female managers of Fortune 500 companies have a sports background.
  • High school girls who participate in team sports are less likely to drop out of school, smoke, drink, or become pregnant.
(Source: Title IX: 25 Years of Progress, U.S. Department of Education, 1997)


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