Fifty Years of Title IX

June 21, 2022
woman in gym lifting weights

June 23, 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark legislation that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs. This is an important milestone in the history of both civil rights and higher education in this country, and one well worth celebrating.

Title IX is best known for transforming collegiate athletics in the United States—and, from there, all of sports. But that was not its original goal. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as it is formally known, was designed to open doors for women across higher education. And by doing that, it didn’t just transform athletics; it also helped create new opportunities for generations of women in America.

Before Title IX, women were often excluded from certain high-status educational programs, like medicine or law. Women college students received fewer scholarships than their male counterparts. Women faculty were denied tenure at a greater rate than men. And in 1970, before Title IX was passed, only 8 percent of adult women in the United States were college graduates in 1970, compared with 14 percent of men.

Today’s higher education landscape is entirely different—thanks to Title IX and the leaders and advocates who fought for its passage.

Check out these resources:


ESPN Presents Fifty/50: Honoring the Stories of Title IX
Paley Center for Media | Now through July 10, 2022
Highlighting unforgettable moments of struggle and triumph, this immersive experience of compelling outfits, photography, and video brings to life the stories of the female athletes who served as vital agents of change in the fight for equality over the last fifty years, and continue to lead the way towards full equality for women in all fields. ESPN Fifty/50 includes examples of the actual uniforms these women sport stars wore and the gear they used, including Serena Williams's 2018 U.S. Open “Tutu” outfit, pioneering racecar driver Danica Patrick’s fire suit, and a racket used in competition by tennis and equality icon Billie Jean King. Other icons include Ibtihaj Muhammad, track star Wyomia Tyus, the 1976 Yale women’s crew team, the USWNT, WNBA, and many more.

Title IX: Activism On and Off the Field
New-York Historical Society | Now through September 4, 2022
A new exhibition immerses visitors in the spaces shaped by the groundbreaking 1972 legislation and reveals the crucial work of activists in demanding that their institutions live up to the law’s promises. Displays document the work of activists across the country whose personal experiences with sex discrimination in education and professional careers within federal government agencies made them uniquely qualified to advocate for meaningful regulations for Title IX and to defend the law against amendments intended to weaken it. Personal items, photographs, and a re-creation of a campus kiosk advertising Take Back the Night demonstrations over the last 30 years convey the passion and commitment of student activists.

Watch and Listen

ESPN’S Fifty/50
The Fifty/50 initiative commemorates the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funding, and gave women the equal opportunity to play sports. Throughout June, ESPN will present a collection of stories focused on the intersection of women, sports, culture and the fight for equality.

NPR’s Benching the Patriarchy: 50 Years of Title IX
Fifty years ago, Title IX banned discrimination based on sex in educational institutions. College sports had to change. Host and former NPR correspondent Emily Harris presents the story of coach Jody Runge, who drove that change in the women's basketball team at the University of Oregon, which is a powerhouse today. Harris teamed up with audio journalist Ida Hardin to report this story.

In Their Court
In Their Court, an NBC Sports and NBC News podcast that launched in May, examines the evolution of Title IX through women’s basketball, 50 years after the historic law passed. US Olympic fencing bronze medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad hosts the five-part series that looks at why the gender gap still exists.


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