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Report Card - Introduction
Introduction | Progress Reports | Action Agenda | Executive Summary (AAUW web site)
With these words, 25 years ago former Senator Birch Bayh introduced a measure designed to end the myriad discriminatory practices confronting women and girls in educational institutions. This provision, enacted as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, is the federal mandate against sex discrimination in education. Using the broadest terms possible, Congress intended to assure that girls and women no longer would be constrained by 'corrosive and unjustified' gender bias in education, signaling loudly and clearly that the days when gender dictated educational opportunities in schools, colleges, or universities receiving taxpayer dollars were over.
As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Title IX's enactment, it is fitting to assess the nation's progress towards Congress's goal of ending sex discrimination in education. From today's vantage point, there is no question that Title IX has had a significant impact on women and girls.
Indeed, a glimpse into the pre-Title IX era is instructive. Before Title IX, schools, from elementary through postsecondary levels, limited the participation of girls and women in opportunities both large and small. Many colleges and professional schools had quotas limiting the number of women that could attend. Athletics programming for girls generally consisted of cheerleading. With the exception of historically black colleges and universities, virtually no college offered women athletic scholarships. Many high schools prohibited boys from taking home economics; girls could not take auto mechanics. Female elementary and secondary school teachers frequently had to leave their jobs when they married or became pregnant. Pregnant and parenting students frequently were not allowed to attend school at all. Some schools even forbade girls from serving on the safety patrol. In short, as former Representative Edith Green, Title IX's sponsor in the House, noted, 'Our educational institutions have proven to be no bastions of democracy.'
Title IX was intended to be a 'strong and comprehensive' measure that would tackle all those forms of discrimination, and more. Lawmakers intended Title IX to address every aspect of educationfrom admissions and tracking to glass ceilings that kept women from reaching the highest ranks of academia. In so doing, Title IX was intended not only to open the doors to educational opportunities formerly closed to women and girls, but also to provide avenues for enhancing their economic futures. Title IX was the nation's promise for ensuring that the talents of half its citizenswomenno longer would be constricted by discrimination.
Twenty-five years later, educational opportunities for girls and women have increased, thanks to Title IX, but there is room for improvement. As the following progress reports make clear, Title IX has helped women and girls make strides in gaining access to higher education, athletics programming, and other areas, such as science and engineering. But many barriers remain.
Too many girls and women still confront 'No Trespassing' signs throughout educational institutions. Women remain underrepresented in critical areas such as math and science. Colleges and universities continue to give short shrift to women's athletics, spending the lion's share of money on men's programming. Scoring gaps persist in standardized testing, limiting women's access to educational institutions, financial aid, and careers. Non- traditional job training programs leading to high-skill, high-wage jobs are still hostile places for women, where they confront the most severe forms of harassment. Few women, particularly women of color, have broken the glass ceiling that keeps the top ranks of positions in colleges and universities primarily the preserve of men. Sexual harassment, which was not even defined as a legal concept in 1972, now has been identified as a barrier to students at every level of education. We owe it to our daughters to improve our performance on Title IX by removing these obstacles.
The progress reports that follow examine these persistent obstacles through the prism of 25 years of Title IX and assess how far we've actually come in making Congress's goal a realityand how far we as a nation have yet to go.
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