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Report Card - Introduction

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| Progress Reports | Action Agenda | Executive Summary (AAUW web site)

One of the great failings of the American educational system is the continuation of corrosive and unjustified discrimination against women. It is clear to me that sex discrimination reaches into all facets of education–admission, scholarship programs, faculty hiring and promotion, professional staffing, and pay scales. . . . The only antidote is a comprehensive amendment such as the one now before the Senate.

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 education–from 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 citizens––women––no longer would be constricted by discrimination.

No Girls Allowed

Some barriers to education for women and girls 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.
  • Some high school and college marching bands would not allow women to play.
  • 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 the faculty club and encouraged to join the faculty wives club instead.

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.

Room for Improvement

True gender equity remains elusive, despite 25 years of Title IX. For example:
  • Less than 20 percent of full professors in colleges and universities are women.
  • Women's college athletics programs receive on average 25 percent of the athletics budget.
  • The number of women coaches in colleges and universities has decreased over the past 25 years–from coaching 90 percent of women's teams to coaching only 48 percent today.
  • Sex segregation persists in career education, including School-to-Work. Seventy percent of women in vocational education study the health professions; in contrast, 77 percent of men study trade and industry.
  • Sexual harassment is pervasive in schools–81 percent of students surveyed have experienced some form of it.

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 reality–and how far we as a nation have yet to go.


  • 118 Cong. Rec. 5803 (February 28, 1972) (Statement of Sen. Birch Bayh).
  • Discrimination Against Women: Hearings on Section 805 of H.R. 16098 before the Special Subcommittee on Education of the House Committee on Education and Labor, 91st Congress, 2d Session (1970).



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