Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments
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.
Title IX is most well-known for increasing women's participation in sports. In 1971, only 294,015 girls participated in high school athletics. According to the U.S. Department of Education, today, over 2.7 million girls participate in high school athletics, an 847 percent increase. However, males are still the majority of high school and college athletes.
But, Title IX is not just about sports. It prohibits discrimination against girls and boys, women and men, students and employees, in all levels of education. In accordance with the 1987 Civil Rights Restoration Act, it continues to apply to all education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. For example, it prohibits sex discrimination in facilities, access to courses, career guidance, student financial aid, health and insurance benefits, employment in educational institutions, and sexual harassment. In addition to schools and colleges, it covers scientific laboratories, prisons, museums, and a variety of other public and private institutions.
Prior to Title IX, many professional programs had quotas drastically limiting the number of women admitted. By 2003, women made up over 75 percent of veterinary students, and roughly half of the medical and law students. In the field of nursing, men now make up 13 percent of students compared to one percent in 1972. Elite undergraduate institutions are now reaching parity between men and women in admissions. Harvard College reported admitting slightly more women than men for the first time in 2004.
Despite progress on some indicators, many inequities remain. Women earn only 20 percent of engineering degrees. Sex segregation and tracking funnel 90 percent of girls and women into traditionally female fields in vocational and technical education. Boys are two-thirds of the special education students and receive 71% of suspensions from school. For updates on progress and challenges see the fall 2007 Ms. magazine articles on the “Triumphs of Title IX” (PDF) and the 2008 report, “Title IX at 35: Beyond the Headlines” by the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education [summary (PDF) | full report (PDF)] and the 2012 report "Title IX at 40: Working to Ensure Gender Equity in Education [Summary (PDF) full report (PDF)].
Although the evidence of benefits from Title IX is overwhelming, Title IX, is constantly under attack by opponents who want to turn back the clock. That is why the Feminist Majority Foundation launched the FMF Education Equity Program in 2003. The program's director, Dr. Sue Klein, is the general editor of a the 2007 research-based "Handbook for Achieving Gender Equity Through Education" and collaborates with others to expand the a Title IX Action Network.