June 23rd, marks the 36th anniversary of Title IX, the revolutionary federal law that outlaws sex-discrimination in education. Title IX, which was originally passed in 1972, reads: “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[.]” The regulations for implementing Title IX were issued in 1975, and require that schools publish grievance procedures, and have Title IX coordinators.
According to a special report in Ms. magazine the gains since 1972 are extraordinary, and not just in sports: In 1970 women were only 40% of all undergraduates, now they are 60%. Previously women received just 14% of doctoral degrees, but today they earn “nearly half.” In medical schools, 50% of students are now women, whereas prior to Title IX women represented just 10%, and in law school, women students have jumped from 7% to 49%. According to the Handbook for Achieving Gender Equity through Education prior to Title IX, many scholarships “could only be awarded to men, and financial aid…could be denied to women who were married, pregnant or had children.”
Title IX still faces challenges. The 2007 report from the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education notes that “Title IX is under attack from critics who claim that there is a ‘boys’ crisis.” Yet, “studies show…that girls’ gains have not come at boys’ expense.” Moreover, in 2006 the Department of Education further weakened Title IX by allowing more sex-segregated education in public schools. These changes have been challenged by the ACLU in recent lawsuits.