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Happy Belated Birthday, Title IX

This is a guest post by Pamela Barnes Craig, Instruction/Reference Librarian at the Law Library of Congress.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Pub. L. 92-318, 86 Stat. 235, 373 turned 40 years old on June 23, 2012.  Its birthday passed much like it became law—quietly and unassumingly.  Its impact, however, has been loud and confident as evidenced by the display of medalists representing the United States of America at the 2012 Olympic Games who were women, the increase in the number of women who have become CEOs of domestic and international corporations and presidents of colleges and universities, and the variety of positions held by women in the political arena.   Many of these women are or were affiliated with academic institutions as professors and students.  All of this is so much a part of the present fabric of society that we have taken these advances for granted.  I imagine even those who initiated its inclusion in the Education Amendments of 1972, Pub. L. 92-318 Title IX, 86 Stat. 235, 373 did not realize its broad and far-reaching effect.  As is often commented there were only 37 words:

Sec. 901. a) 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, . . .(p. 373)

Edith Green, Patsy Mink, and Birch Bayh are the most noted members of Congress involved in the passage of Title IX.  Each wanted language inserted into the underlying Education Amendments Act that would prohibit sex discrimination in institutions of higher education; however, each wanted it for different reasons.  Rep. Edith Green discovered there were programs in place to keep boys in school but no programs for girls in the 1960s.  Rep. Patsy Mink, who had personally experienced discrimination in the academic world, led on education and gender equity issues throughout her legislative career.  Sen. Birch Bayh wanted to prohibit sex discrimination in all forms; he helped write this legislation as well as the Equal Rights Amendment.

The passage of Title IX is a wonderful example of the workings of the legislative process.  Having served in the House of Representatives since 1955, Rep. Green became Chair of the Higher Education Subcommittee and subsequently, Chair of the Special Subcommittee on Education.  In 1970, she used the special subcommittee to hold the first hearings on sex discrimination in education. Her House colleague Rep. Patsy Mink submitted a statement along with others who testified.  Many of those who spoke were affiliated with academic institutions and organizations.  Mink said:  “Discrimination against women in education is one of the most insidious forms of prejudice extant in our nation.”

During the subcommittee debate, Rep. Green offered an amendment to the bill banning sexual discrimination (Title IX).  The bill was sent to full committee without the amendment, which failed in subcommittee.  The provision banning discrimination was put back into the Higher Education bill in the full committee with the aid of Reps. Patsy Mink and Shirley Chisholm who were members of the full committee during the 92nd Congress.  When the bill went before the full House, Rep. Green sought to ensure the provision remained in the bill through its passage, just as Sen. Bayh did in the Senate.  Congress passed the Education Amendments Act with Title IX on June 8, 1972.  President Nixon signed it into law on June 23rd.  There is a wealth of information contained in the congressional documents on the Education Amendments Act.  However, it is imagining these two women talking and negotiating with other members to get their support and keep the provision intact in the bill that makes it so exciting.    Remember in the 92nd Congress (1971-1972) of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, only 13 were women.

In addition, to the Congressional documents, the Library’s Manuscript Division houses the Patsy Mink Papers. I heard the archivist, Margaret McAleer, during the Capitol Visitors Center Constitution Day series speak on Title IX and the Patsy Mink Papers.  During Margaret’s talk she discussed the richness of the Patsy Mink collection which includes letters from constituents and organizations, staff notes, photographs, and newspaper articles pertaining to Title IX.  In 2002 the law was renamed Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act to honor the Representative’s vital role in crafting, defending, and providing continued support for Title IX.

To emphasize the importance of the law over its existence Margaret cites some statistics:

Between 1951 and 1970 the education for women was shockingly discriminatory.  There were quotas on admission to undergraduate and graduate programs, discrimination in access to scholarships and financial assistance, and discrimination in the hiring of women faculty.  Only 18% of women had bachelor degrees and only 7.5% (294,015 girls) of high school girls participated in athletics in 1971.  Today, close to 60% of undergraduates are women.  During the 2012 Olympics women representing the USA won 45 medals – 29 of them gold.

President Nixon did not mention Title IX as he signed it into law.  The legislative at the time focus was on the school busing components, which were another part of the Education Amendments of 1972.  Shortly after Title IX’s passage, it began to appear in the news with negative connotations.  Those affiliated with college and university athletic departments realized the potential impact.  Financial assistance dollars would have to be shared with existing and ‘those to be created’ women’s athletic programs.  Universities with long-standing football and/or basketball programs were very vocal in their opposition.  Title IX was included in the legislation to prohibit sexual discrimination on all levels of the academic world, not just athletics.  Women fought through the years to show Title IX was not just about athletics.  Examples like former Provost of Stanford University and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Elizabeth Warren, Harvard Law Professor and the newly elected Senator from Massachusetts give evidence to Patsy Mink’s remarks:

Few people realize the extent to which our society is denied full use of our human resources because of this type of discrimination …The most unfortunate thing of all is that education is the very process we rely upon to make the changes and advances we need and yet we find that even education is not imparted on a fair and equitable basis.

The unexpected aspect of Title IX was the increased participation of girls and women in organized sports.  We saw the results in the display of the mastery, strength and grace of the women athletes in a range of sports during the 2012 Olympics and in the existence of a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).  Moreover, in 2011 41.4 % of high school athletes were female (3.2 million).

I am often reminded of how things have changed when I see a college or WNBA player take the ball to the hoop or see a guard dribbling from one end of the court to the other.  I think back to my days as a stationary guard who was only allowed to dribble to half-court and say Happy Belated Birthday, Title IX.

 

One Comment

  1. Janice Hyde
    November 28, 2012 at 8:08 am

    I’ve always associated Title IX with women’s participation in college athletics. Thanks for expanding my understanding!

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