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What 50 Years of Title IX Has and Has Not Accomplished

Title IX’s impact extends far beyond sports. Title IX was created to protect against sex-based discrimination as a whole. It was passed 50 years ago. In addition to creating equality in sports, Title IX has also been applied toward reducing sexual violence and promoting transgender rights in recent years. Its impact has evolved to increase impact over the past half-century.

Before: Before Title IX existed, fewer than 300,000 girls participated in high school athletics and approximately 15,000 women played college sports. These statistics represented 8% and 10% of the total amount of boys who participated in each level during that time

Growth Toward Gender Parity: In the first decade after Title IX was introduced, there was rapid growth in women’s sports. Nearly two million more women were participating in sports after the first decade and the number of men participating remained relatively stable or may have declined slightly. By the end of the first decade, women’s participation was 53.1% relative to boys. The gap has continued to close since then, reaching a peak of 75% in 2018-19.  

Shortcomings: Despite enormous growth from Title IX, women’s participation in college sports as well as allocation of resources is lower than we would expect when compared to enrollment figures. Despite 13% more women enrolling in colleges compared to men, sports participation was only 88% of the level of men, representing a 25% dropoff. For athletic spending, women only received half the amount men did and coaches received 43% compensation comparatively. Title IX does not call for equal pay but it does call for banning discriminatory treatment 

Conclusions: According to the Pew Research Center, “82% of Americans who participated in high school or college sports said that the experience had a positive effect on their current physical health.” Additionally, 79 percent said it boosted their self-esteem and 44 percent said it helped them land a future job. In short, the numbers reflect the impact that Title IX has made but there is still a long way to go towards expanding athletic opportunities.


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