Title IX: Is It Time for Reform?

Members of the 1976 Yale crew (from left): Anne Warner, Chris Ernst, Lynn Baker, Lynne Alvarez, Elaine Mathies, Cathy Pew, Chris Stowe and Jennie Kiesling. (Photo courtesy of ESPN.com)
Members of the 1976 Yale crew (from left): Anne Warner, Chris Ernst, Lynn Baker, Lynne Alvarez, Elaine Mathies, Cathy Pew, Chris Stowe and Jennie Kiesling. (Photo courtesy of ESPN.com)

by: Meghan Collins, Graphic Designer

“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…”[1] Title IX has been a monumental force for gender equality in educational programs for the last 41 years.

The proposed amendment was originally brought to congress by Senator Birch Bayh and was signed into law by President Nixon in 1972. Title IX was originally drafted to represent the typically underrepresented female gender. Senator Bayh faced many opponents in his fight to pass Title IX into law because of the stereotype that women only went to college to be pretty and find a husband. In his words “The desire of many schools not to waste a ‘man’s place’ on a woman stems from such stereotyped notions. But the facts absolutely contradict these myths about the ‘weaker sex’ and it is time to change our operating assumptions.”[2] After the bill was signed into law, President Nixon ordered the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to draft regulations. Passing the Bill through congress was a small battle compared to the resistance met by educational communities across the country in its implementation and enforcement.

In 1976, on a cold March day, 19 female members of the Yale Women’s Crew team walked into their Athletic Director’s office and disrobed. With “Title IX” written across their naked bodies they read a letter of grievances ending with the phrase “[w]e’re human and being treated less than such.”[3] Even though Title IX had been passed 4 years prior and regulated a year prior, Yale had not complied with the law and the Women’s crew team was forced to wait on the bus soaking wet while their male counterparts had nice hot showers. The fight for gender equality in athletics as well as in academics is still fought today.

I have personally benefitted from Title IX. Had it not been for this law, I would not be able to say that I was a proud member of the Stevens Institute of Technology Women’s Lacrosse team for four years. I am eternally grateful to Senator Bayh and all of the men and women who fought for Title IX’s creation and implementation. However, today we are faced with a new battle. Has Title IX gone too far?

The number of Division IA football teams fell from 137 to 117 between 1981 and 2004; the number of Division I Men’s Gymnastics teams fell from 59 to just 17; and Wrestling teams fell from 146 to 86.[4] In essence; some male sports teams are becoming a thing of the past.

Title IX was enacted for the purposes of gender equality in education. Women have come a long way in their presence in academic institutions now outranking men 56% to 44% at public universities nationwide.[5] Women still have many battles to overcome in the male driven society but Title IX has allowed academic institutions to oppress men.  Watching young males lose their opportunity to pursue athletic endeavors at their chosen universities is directly contradictory to the purpose of the law. Title IX needs to be reformed so both men and women have equal opportunity to thrive at academic institutions.

[1] 20 U.S.C.A. § 1681 (West)

[2] 118 Cong. Record 5804 (1972).

[3] Steve Wulf, “Title Waves,” ESPN the Magazine, June 11, 2012.

[4] Carrie Lucas, National Review Online, reprinted by Brittney Andres in CBSNews Online, March 30, 2007

[5] Daniel Borzelleca, The Male-Female Ratio in College, Forbes Magazine, February 16, 2012.


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