June 8, 2012

Shirley Chisholm's bid for the Democratic nomination for President  isn't the only milestone for womens equality with a big anniversary in 2012. Forty years ago today, Congress passed Title IX.

Shirley Chisholm Project Director Barbara Winslow discussed the significance of the transformative legislation, calling it, “One of the great achievements of the women’s movement,” in an essay for the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

For those who aren't familiar with what Title IX is:

The law states: “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.” Most people think Title IX only applies to sports, but athletics is only one of ten key areas addressed by the law. These areas include: access to higher education, career education, education for pregnant and parenting students, employment, learning environment, math and science, sexual harassment, standardized testing, and technology.

There was a rapid transformation in opportunities for women athletes and scholars after the law passed:

In 1971, fewer than 295,000 girls participated in high school varsity athletics, accounting for just 7 percent of all varsity athletes; in 2001, that number leaped to 2.8 million, or 41.5 percent of all varsity athletes, according to the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education. In 1966, 16,000 females competed in intercollegiate athletics. By 2001, that number jumped to more than 150,000, accounting for 43 percent of all college athletes. In addition, a 2008 study of intercollegiate athletics showed that women’s collegiate sports had grown to 9,101 teams, or 8.65 per school.

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