By Barbara Barker
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This week marks the 45th anniversary of Title IX. Though the law is most often associated with the growth of women’s and girls’ athletics, it paved the way for women to get the education they needed to enter a myriad of professions.
It is just one sentence, 37 words crammed quietly into an education bill, yet it changed the direction of millions of lives. Including my own.
Forty-five years ago this coming Friday, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
Though the law is most often associated with the growth of women’s and girls’ athletics, it paved the way for women to get the education they needed to enter a myriad of professions.
It’s fair to say my life would not be what it is today if it weren’t for Title IX.
I would not have gone to graduate school. I would not have been hired as a sports writer and I wouldn’t have a daughter who participated in a number of team sports up through high school and now heads off to college believing she can be anything she wants to be.
I had just completed fifth grade when Title IX passed, barely old enough to understand the concept of the legislative branch yet alone know what kind of impact laws could have on people’s lives. Yet there was a group of devoted activists in Washington who did.
Many some of them, including congresswomen Patsy Mink and Edith Green, are unfortunately no longer living. One of the most ardent supporters, Birch Bayh, is and he couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out.
“I did not realize the impact that one sentence (37 words) would have,” the former U.S. senator from Indiana said in an email interview last week. “I knew the need for it, but I could not have anticipated how wonderfully it would turn out. My thoughts were about gender equality in education, in academics. I knew that women were routinely refused admission to many colleges, in many academic disciplines, received almost no scholarships, and that even women faculty were asked to join the spouses club on campus, not the faculty groups. I had no idea what it would mean for girls and women in sports!”