By Ken Reed
Perhaps Richard Nixon’s greatest accomplishment as President of the United States was signing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 into law on June 23, 1972.
It’s been 45 years since Title IX prohibited high schools and colleges that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of gender in any program or activity, including sports.
The benefits have been tremendous. As one example, a survey by Ernst & Young and espnW found that of businesswomen now in the C-suite (CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, etc.), 94% played sports and 52% played college sports.
“The passage of Title IX 45 years ago changed the trajectory of American women, thus transforming our culture,” said Donna de Varona, Olympic gold medalist and Title IX advocate.
“We found our way into space, onto the Supreme Court and into the high echelons of politics. In the sporting arena, we became visible affirmations of what is possible, offering up strong, confident role models for future generations.”
While Title IX’s positive impact is definitely worth celebrating, there is still work to be done on the equality front in sports. High school and college budgets for female sports programs still trail those of their male counterparts. In addition, coaching and administrative opportunities for women in sports are still limited.
A new report produced by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, and LGBT SportSafe revealed that head coaches of women’s teams in major college conferences are 56.9 percent male and 43.1 percent female. Of the conferences studied (Ivy, American, Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC, Big East, SEC and Big 12), the Ivy league had the most female coaches of women’s sports at 55 percent.
“When we consider that 45 years after Title IX, less than 45 percent of head coaching positions in women’s sport are held by women, we must wonder about the opportunities lost not only for coaches but for those female student-athletes who could have benefited from a female role model,” said Delise S. O’Meally, executive director of the National Consortium for Academics and Sport.
Yes, there’s still work to be done on the equal opportunity front in sports, but it’s important to stop occasionally and celebrate how far we’ve come as a society. The 45th anniversary of the passage of Title IX is a good time to do that.
“The benefits will be in what happens after the playing days are over, namely more women in leadership positions in our society,” said Big East commissioner and former WNBA president Val Ackerman.
“Whether doctors, lawyers, engineers, CEOs, senators, university presidents, tech titans — the pathways for women will keep easing because sports can pave the way.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.