August 13, 2012

Pop Quiz: Title IX

How this law changed the playing field for female athletes.

Shelby: Scott told you about how the U.S. came out on top during the Olympics. And it was the female athletes that helped get us there. For the first time, the U.S. sent more female athletes than male athletes to the games. In fact, if the U.S. women – just the women – had been their own country, they would have ranked third in how many gold medals they took home.

Did you know that back when your grandparents were in school, girls rarely played school sports? But forty years ago, the U.S. passed a landmark civil rights law that gave women better access to educational opportunities, including athletic programs offered in schools.

So, here is a pop quiz:

What is the law that made sexual discrimination illegal in all school programs? Is it:

A. Equal Athletics Act

B. Miranda Rights

C. Title IX

D. Title II

You have got ten seconds!

If you said “C,” Title IX, you are right!

Title IX is part of education amendments passed in 1972, which was aimed at getting more women into male-dominated colleges. But it had a side effect: getting more women into sports. Before that, the main physical activities for girls: cheerleading and square-dancing.

Times sure have changed!

In 1972, just 7% of all high school athletes were girls. That is about 1 out of every 27 girls playing high school sports. Fast forward to 2011, and the number of female athletes has climbed to 41%.

Forty years ago, women sports received just 2% of a high school’s athletic budget. Today, as much as 40% of total funding for women’s high school athletics.

Let’s talk about college sports. Today, there are six times the number of women in college sports than before Title IX.

And what about those athletic scholarships? Pretty much nonexistent for women back in ’71. But by 2010, women were being awarded nearly half of total athletic scholarship dollars at Division I schools.

Title IX has caused some controversy. Critics of the law say it discriminates against men, and forces schools to cut less popular men’s sports in order to make room for women’s sports.

Athletics is just one area addressed by Title IX. The law also covers issues like career education, help for pregnant and parenting students, sexual harassment, and technology.

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