Title IX passed on June 23, 1972. It was a brief 37-word paragraph signed by Richard Nixon that announced the federal government would withdraw funding to any public college or graduate school that discriminated against women. In 1970, 59% of women in the U.S. graduated from high school, and a paltry 8% had college degrees. Title IX announced a shift where women were educated in ways that afforded them opportunities to enter male-dominated professions. It set off a chain of cultural shifts in this country.
Change comes to sports
One of the most noticeable effects of Title IX has been its impact on women’s sports. While there is still much work to be done to make the gender balance even more equitable in sports, the United States has been a longtime global leader in women’s professional sports, dominating sports like soccer and basketball. It fielded many great women Olympians across many sports, with a dominance in hockey it shares with Canada and in softball.
Outshining men at the Olympics
Team U.S.A. has won the Olympic medal count for each summer Olympics since 1996, the first to feature female athletes that grew up in the Title IX era. The numbers don’t lie:
- In Tokyo, the women got 66 medals, the most ever for any nation’s women’s team. Women medalists now outnumber the men on Team U.S.A. with increasingly larger numbers since 2012.
- Women have won a greater percentage of available medals in every Summer Olympics since 1992 except in 2004.
- The last time the U.S. team won more medals in men’s events than women in women’s events was in both Olympics in 2010.
This success came because of Title IX
The scope of U.S. women’s college sports has been unparalleled across various disciplines. It started with funding to provide knowledgeable coaching, access to the same facilities boys and men took for granted, and equipment to help improve them.
According to Billie Jean King’s website, girls’ and women’s participation in sports has grown by 1057% at the high school level and 614% at the college level thanks to Title IX. Not only are these females competing and thriving as athletes, they now make up some of the best coaches in sports across a wide range of disciplines.