Title IX is a federal law enacted in the United States designed to protect against gender-based discrimination in educational programs and activities. The bill that was enacted to end gender-based discrimination came to fruition on the heels of the Civil rights movement of 1964 as a result of the continued pressure from women’s rights activists who viewed participation in educational activities as a critical element to the success of women’s equality efforts. Though critics have questioned the true level of success Title IX has imparted upon the gender discrimination battle, there is no doubt that that Title IX has brought about monumental changes for women participating in federally funded educational activities. Additionally, what must be acknowledged is the undeniable revolution that arose unintentionally within college athletics as a result, impacting both men and women, ultimately; changing the way society views college athletics for years to come.
Throughout the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the women’s movement succeeded in bringing national attention to the discrimination woman faced, particularly in the workplace. Though women had already become an invaluable part of the workforce during this time, major inequalities continued to exist between female wage earners and their male counterparts. Women’s rights activists strongly believed that the wage gaps plaguing women in the workforce could be attributed to inequalities in education prompting class action lawsuits against universities and the federal government. These lawsuits encouraged Congress to turn their attention to gender-based discrimination in educational institutions, ultimately leading to the passing of Title IX.
Title IX was successfully adopted and implemented with minimal pushback in most educational programs, except athletics. In the years following the passing of Title IX, it was unclear what requirement universities would have to provide the same level of equality in athletics until an amendment to the law was passed in 1975 extending Title IX federal regulations of equal opportunity to college athletics. This was a topic of controversy among male leaders of the NCAA and male athletic coaches causing a shift in the general issues of inequality, which Title IX originally addressed, to a more athletics-focused debate.
As a result of the newly updated Title IX requirements, women’s athletic opportunities began to grow, however, men’s athletes took a bit of a hit. In order to comply with regulations, universes were forced to distribute funding equally to things such as women’s locker rooms and sports equipment. Resources were being diluted in an effort to provide equality amongst athletes, which ended up shortchanging talented male athletes as a result.
Though things may have been looking up for female athletes, some unintended barriers were created for women coaches. Prior to Title IX, coaching a women’s team was viewed as a less desirable position; therefore, women were able to dominate the field. However, after Title IX passed, and women’s athletics started to gain traction, more men became interested, and increasingly began filling coaching positions (Cunningham & Sagas 2013). For example, In 1972, women coached more than 90% of women’s teams, while in recent years a mere 42.4% of women’s teams were led by women coaches (Kilty 2006).
Women Win Big With Title IX. American History serial online. n.d.;50(5):20-21. Available from: Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Ipswich, MA. Accessed December 10, 2017.
Rose, D. (2015). Regulating Opportunity: Title IX and the Birth of Gender-Conscious Higher Education Policy. Journal Of Policy History, 27(1), 157-183. doi:10.1017/S0898030614000396
Cunningham, G. B., & Sagas, M. (2002). The differential effects of human capital for male and female Division I basketball coaches. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 73(4), 489-495.
Kilty, K. (2006). Women in coaching. The Sport Psychologist, 20(2), 222-234.