Title IX: Past and Present

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Throughout history the relationship between women in education has been tumultuous and largely unstable. Margaret Haley’s perception of education revealed contradictory viewpoints between teaching as a female profession and teaching as a mechanism for social movement. Teaching, according to her, was initially perceived as a way for social movement; however, it was only deemed possible within the confines of gender norms. The role that gender plays in education highlights the shifting relationship that women have with education. The shift away from gendered views in the progressive era and in modern times highlights education as the great equalizer for males and females. Similarly, the implementation of the Title IX Education Act in 1972 served as a mechanism for women in education to attain more freedom, rights, and opportunities. The purpose of the act was for women to be provided the same opportunity as their male counterparts and thus promote gender equality. The Act specifically states that “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” (NCAA, 2017). The act itself had no initial mention of athletics or sports; however, in today’s society it is commonplace to associate Title IX with athletics and more specifically women’s involvement with athletics. In this essay I aim to explore what the original goals for Title IX were and what were the intended and unintended outcomes?

Title IX is currently a living, breathing law, it is constantly changing to fit the needs of society and reforming to the call and beckon of women’s equality. Since Title IX was passed, it has been the subject of over 20 proposed amendments or political actions. The original intention of the law was to promote gender equality. According to Susan Ware (2007) the first Congressional hearings on the education and employment of women were in June and July of 1970, which later turned into the Title IX document. What it strived for was for the law to cover sex discrimination in federally funded or assisted programs, and for equal pay of female professionals. However, I argue that the implementation of the Title IX Act in 1972 served not only as a catalyst to promote gender equality in education, but also elevated athletic opportunities for women in today’s society.  

“Prior to Title IX, female students were denied equal opportunities under the law in academics; women applicants were routinely denied equal access to medical, law and other graduate disciplines; and women athletes were denied equal participation in sports.  Similarly, female faculty members were denied equal compensation and promotion” (Birch Bayh). While, the implementation of the policy had clear intentions of ensuring educational opportunity for women, somewhere down the line the shift changed to focus on extracurriculars outside of the classroom. The world of sports and athletics began to take shape, and thus, females in sports began to rise. Title IX is often associated today with having equal athletic opportunity rather than educational opportunity. The Act itself promoted and fought for gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program that received federal funding. Women, according to the Act were allowed to have the same federal funding as men under the condition that their request had educational roots. At least on paper, women were finally being accepted and seen as equals to men. The implementation of Title IX allowed for more gender equity within the school system. One way in which the Act promoted gender equity was combating issues of discrimination in the university admissions process. Women, prior to the implementation of the Act, were often rejected from higher education opportunities on the basis of their gender (Mango, 1991). There were no previous legal ramifications for Universities which rejected applicants on the basis of their gender, a written legal rule provided women with legal basis in order to combat issues of sexism and discrimination in education. The initial goal was to provide women with the same federal funding as men, with this came the understanding that admissions processes largely favored male applicants over females. The implementation of the Act created legal parameters for women applying to universities needing federal funding or wanting funding later on in their academic careers. The Act also provided equal gendered opportunities while in schools especially in the science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM) (Walters, 2010). Women’s employment opportunities and employment stability were additionally protected under the Title IX Act. The Act also addressed issues of sex discrimination. While, the implementation of the policy had clear intentions of ensuring educational opportunity for women, somewhere down the line the shift changed to focus on extracurriculars outside of the classroom.

Athletics often times did not fall into the category of what was considered an “educational program.” In 1981, when two young women attempted to create a golf team using federal aid, the federal court in Michigan ruled that Title IX did not cover athletics as an educational program (Flygare, 1981). Nine years after the first implementation of the policy, on a state level, the majority of the population held the belief that athletics was not considered an educational program. Additionally, in the original language of the Title IX act athletics were not included under the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) jurisdiction. Therefore, in 1977 discrimination in the realm of athletics and any grievances in athletics did not fall under the Title IX Act (Kuhn, 1976). If this original language had been passed the Act would have had clear intentions of applying to activities outside the classroom such as athletics rather than solely gender inequities within schools. Athletic programs were not, at the time, considered educational programs that were assisted under federal grant laws. An educational program is a program written by an institution which determines the learning process of each student. Athletics on the other hand can be seen as a recreational program because it can be argued that there is little knowledge gained to improve a student’s own learning process at an institution and at this time most athletic clubs were not federally funded. However, others argue that the knowledge gained from athletics often extends beyond what is learned in a classroom. When Title IX began to shift its focus on athletics it was argued that sports not only counted as a learning program, but also that women deserved to have the same rights as men within the sports world.  

Title IX first began to shift from a focus on education to a focus on women and athletics in 1979 when the three part test went into effect. The three part test was a tool used to determine if a proposed action fell under the qualifications for Title IX. In order to comply with the three part test of Title IX institutions must provide participation for men and women, athletic financial assistance, and ethical treatment of males and females.

According to the three part test, “the number of male and female athletes is substantially proportionate to their respective enrollments, the institution has a history and continuing practice of expanding participation opportunities responsive to the developing interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex; and the institution is fully and effectively accommodating the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex” (US Department of Education, 2017).

This three part test expanded Title IX beyond just an “educational program” and allowed women to not only participate in athletics, but to participate with the same quality as their male counterparts. One such example of the prevalence of women in the sports realm post 1972 occurred when media coverage of women increased. While coverage of the women may have perpetuated female stereotypes, nonetheless it was still considered coverage, and it was still considered movement in the right direction for women’s equality. According to Kane (1998), “there was a significant increase in the proportion of coverage given to women in athletic roles.” In the same study they also found that there was more media covering women in “sex-appropriate” sports such as tennis versus “sex-inappropriate” sports like rugby. Essentially, there was in an increase in the quantity of media coverage of females in sports, but a decrease in quality in how women were perceived in media. This unfortunately, is an issue that still affects women in sports today. The shift into athletics catapulted women’s athletics to the forefront of the Title IX march for equality and provided us with what athletics looks like today.

Title IX still remains a prevalent topic of discussion within the world of athletics and within the female community. The use of it in an athletic context has given rise to pop ups of female empowerment. Women in sports are finally being provided the same resources as men; there are however, questions as to whether or not those resources match in quality. For example, in April of 2017, the Women’s National Hockey team went on strike in order to prompt USA Hockey for more funding. Female National and Professional hockey players in the United States make significantly less amounts of money than their male counterparts and thus, they have to take up second jobs. Title IX sparked protests outside of an educational setting and empowered women to fight for their rights. Another example of women in sports was the protest of the US Women’s National Soccer team, who also protested the inequities in their pay. While both women’s team had opportunities to represent their nation, and receive money while doing so, the quality of their compensation did not match nearly as close as the men. With this, it brings to question why the United States is so slow to reform and change in order to empower the women of the nation. It took years for women to finally become accepted into schools and universities, a long time for them to receive the same quality of education, even longer for them to be allowed to participate in athletics, and now even though they are allowed to participate in athletics, the treatment of women still remains questionable. The shift of Title IX into athletics and the progression of the STEM fields show that progress is possible and doors can be opened when vying for change. However, progress is still slow, as studies conducted in 2003 show that men made up over three quarters of the students enrolled in higher education STEM programs (National Women’s Law Center, 2012). So while the act itself opened up more doors, progress in the STEM field is slow moving, just as it has been with women in athletics. With the treatment of women remaining questionable and the slow progression of change for women, it brings to light future implications for the Title IX act which has begun to spring up in the last few years. Particularly, in the past few years the amount of uprising sparked by women have moved Title IX into a new area which covers issues of sexual harassment on college campuses. The versatility of Title IX, what it represents as a law to protect women, and the slow moving doors that it opens, provides women a chance of equality in all aspects of life. While the change may be slow, it is a change nonetheless.



Flygare, T. J. (1981). Federal Court in Michigan Holds That Title IX Does Not Cover Athletics. Phi Delta Kappan, 62(10), 741-42. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/20386125.pdf

Intercollegiate athletics policy: three-part test part three. (n.d.). US Department of Education: Office of Civil Rights website: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/Title9-qa-20100420.html

Kane, M. J. (1988). Media coverage of the female athlete before, during, and after Title IX: Sports Illustrated revisited. Journal of sport management, 2(2), 87-99.

Kuhn, J. L. (1976). Title IX: Employment and Athletics Are Outside HEW’s Jurisdiction. Geo. LJ, 65, 49.

Kuhn, J. (1976). Title IX: Employment and Athletics Are Outside Hew’s Jurisdiction. Georgetown Law Journal 65(1), 49-78

Mango, K. (1991). Students Versus Professors: Combating Sexual Harassment Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Connecticut Law Review 23(2), 355-412.

Title IX opening the gates of higher education. (n.d.). Birch Bayh: Title IX website: http://www.birchbayh.com/id3.html

Title IX 40 years and counting. (2012, June). May 4, 2017, from National Women’s Law Center.https://nwlc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/nwlcstem_titleixfactsheet.pdf

Walters, J., & McNeely, C. L. (2010). Recasting Title IX: Addressing gender equity in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professoriate. Review of Policy Research, 27(3), 317-332.

Ware, S. (2007). Title IX: A brief history with documents. Bedford/St. Martins.


Video Analysis: Waiting for Superman

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In the film Waiting for Superman by David Guggenheim, the narrator expressed how success through the form of public education is based on the hands of luck. The public school system isn’t providing adequate tools to teach kids and provide them with future opportunities. The solution according to Geoffrey Canada is the creation of charter schools. Those who are wealthy enough to send their children to private schools choose that path for their children in order to provide their kids a better future, while those who can’t afford private schools are thrown into a failing public school system, or are entered into a lottery to be accepted into a charter school. Education is considered the great equalizer in order to fix the wage gap and ensure that all children are provided the same opportunities in the future, but when the education fails the kids, especially those of low SES, their only solution is to be thrown into a lottery.

The documentary allows viewers to see the struggle that families from lower socioeconomic status has to go through. The film follows five students who are entered into the lottery for a charter school. The most memorable scene however, was when the filmmakers highlighted the concept of baby schools and the boarding schools that the kids can apply to to receive a better education. In the process, they interviewed a young boy who stated “I want to go to college to get an education.” The filmmakers asked why and the child responded, “because if I have kids, I don’t want them to be in this environment…I want my kids to have better than what I have” (Guggenheim, 1:21:50). The fact that the child, at such a young age, understands that an education is important to succeed in life is remarkable within itself. However, the second part of his statement reveals his understanding that the problem isn’t just within the school system, but within the environment as well. His statements highlight Canada’s view that in order to change education you have to also change the neighborhood and the community as a whole. In order to receive honest answers from the child, filmmakers were sure to ask the child why receiving an education was so important. This opened the floor up to more discussion which was an important move on the part of the filmmakers.

At the end of the video the narrator stated we ask ourselves, did we do the right thing, did we do enough. The public school system has many failures within it that oftentimes penalizes the poor. Education is a broken system with too many holes, it seems that the only way to fix it would to be providing every student an equal chance, by providing equal incomes, equal environments, and equal home lives. The focus on equality; however, isn’t really a feasible task, and will never be a feasible goal. The rise of charter schools with this new lottery system of application seem to be a band aid to a much bigger problem. Kids who do not get their name selected are thrown back into the failing public school system. What then is the goal of education, if we know that providing equal opportunity is never truly feasible?

Source: Waiting for Superman 1:21:50
Source: Waiting for Superman 1:21:50


Source: Waiting for Superman 1:28:31
Source: Waiting for Superman 1:28:31




Guggenheim, Davis. Waiting for “Superman.” 2010. Film.

 Taking from the Wealthy and Distributing to the Poor: Schooling Edition

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“Budget cuts will undermine the mission of our school which is to provide impassioned teenagers from all races, religions, and incomes with equal and superior opportunities in the arts and our central community,” said 16 year old Margo Lutz as she addressed the board at the Appropriations Committee Public Hearing regarding the Governor’s proposed budget allotments for the 2017-2018 school year.

On February 21st 2017, at the legislative office building in Hartford Connecticut, the question as to where money is distributed after budget cuts and after receiving state education aid was brought into light. The goal of Governor Malloy is to readminister money to the districts most in need; however, criticism about how “need” is measured has become a problem for local administrations due to feelings of neglect. At this point talk about the Husky Health Program and free/reduced lunch prices made their way into the hearing discussion regarding measurements of wealth within schools.

Throughout our time spent at the hearing, we heard testimonials of students, parents, and administration all vying for aid to ensure a better future for themselves and their children. Most notable was interim superintendent Aresta Johnson.

Johnson advocated on behalf of Bridgeport Public Schools emphasizing the need for additional funding through the state education aid.  According to Johnson, Bridgeport Public Schools, “16% of students are in special education classes, 15% of students are in ELA (English Language Arts courses).” While Johnson stressed the need for funding for the children within the Bridgeport Public Schools, she did also mention the inadequacies to meet pension.

It appears that there are clear inequalities throughout the public school system in Connecticut, and the allocation of state funds is a complex and arduous task due to the amount of “need.” However, what one often defines as a necessity can so often be misinterpreted and skewed by another. While some students testified about the quality of their music and arts programs, others testified about their Boys and Girls club and the need to keep similar programs for future endeavors. One student at the hearing stressed the importance of after school tutoring programs because as an ELA student her parents are incapable of helping her with her homework.

The whole point of an education is to provide an equal opportunity for children regardless of race, religion, or income level. In order to best allocate resources appropriately and to those who need them, state aid needs to refocus priorities on providing better futures for the children within the public school system. Rather than limiting funds for something that is already working like for example the Future Farmers of America Organization and the Boys and Girls Club, limit funds on organizations that require less need, like for example charter and private schools. If a family really values the unique experience that charter or private schools provide students, perhaps limiting state funds to private schools won’t affect attendance rates at all. Most families who have children enrolled in private schools, have the means to pay for them. If state funding is provided to public school systems, the quality of education would increase and provide a meaningful education for families who can’t afford a private education.

Lobby of the Legislative Office Building



Inside the Hearing