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How Title Ix Education Enactment Affects Both Gender Sports in Hs and College Education

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What effects has Title IX education amendments of 1972 had on men’s and women’s sports at the high school and college levels?

One of the great achievements of the women’s movement was the enactment of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The law states: “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.” Most people think Title IX only applies to sports, but athletics is only one of ten key areas addressed by the law. These areas include: access to higher education, career education, education for pregnant and parenting students, employment, learning environment, math and science, sexual harassment, standardized testing, and technology. It’s hard to imagine that just forty years ago, young women were not admitted into many colleges and universities, athletic scholarships were rare, and math and science was a realm reserved for boys.

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Girls square danced instead of playing sports, studied home economics instead of training for male-oriented trades. Girls could become teachers and nurses, but not doctors or principals; women rarely were awarded tenure and even more rarely appointed college presidents. There was no such thing as sexual harassment because “boys will be boys,” after all, and if a student got pregnant, her formal education ended. Graduate professional schools openly discriminated against women. In every area of athletics, girls and women faced discrimination, racism, homophobia, prejudice, and ridicule. Women were warned that physical activity was not only unfeminine but proof of lesbianism. Female athletes were depicted as physically unattractive and women were told that competitive sports would hurt reproductive organs as well as a woman’s chances of marriage. Women were seen as more selfish and not as team-oriented as men. “Marginalized and trivialized, girls’ teams had to raise their own money through bake sales or carwashes, wear their school gym suit or make their own uniforms,” (). School cheerleaders received more attention than female athletes. Girls played in empty gymnasiums. Parents who would come to see their sons wouldn’t watch their athlete daughters.

Another female athlete, Marge Snyder, remembers, “I played on my Illinois high school’s first varsity tennis team from 1968 to 1970. We were 56-0 over my three years. We were permitted to compete as long as we made no efforts to publicize our accomplishments and personally paid for our uniforms and equipment.” Snyder would go on to work for the Women’s Sports Foundation. The passage of Title IX in 1972 meant that by 1973 there were college scholarships at the larger schools, money for equipment and uniforms, and expanded travel schedules. In 1971, fewer than 295,000 girls participated in high school varsity athletics, accounting for just 7 percent of all varsity athletes; in 2001, that number leaped to 2.8 million, or 41.5 percent of all varsity athletes, according to the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education. In 1966, 16,000 females competed in intercollegiate athletics. By 2001, that number jumped to more than 150,000, accounting for 43 percent of all college athletes.

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