WH Celebrates 40th Anniv. of Title IX: Bridging Gender Gaps Then and Now; From Sports to STEM
The White House celebrated Title IX's 40th birthday by unveiling some new measures that would expand Title IX beyond the sports arena to bolster female presence in underrepresented fields, continuing the work toward breaking the glass ceiling that prevents so many women from gaining economic parity with their male counterparts.
Since its enactment in 1972, Title IX has effectively leveled the playing field between the sexes by mandating equal access to-, and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex-, to for all academic and athletic institutions receiving federal funding.In the years since its passing, the ruling has had many successes helping women make their way into traditionally male-dominated fields. There are now twice the amount of science and math professors than there were before, and the number of female college athletes has increased from 30,000 to 190,000.
“Sports teaches you how to be resilient," said professional tennis player and founder of the Women Sport Foundation, Billie Jean King of the impact that Title IX had on her own life, and the countless benefits provided to her by playing sports. "It teaches you to get up everyday and just keep going and recharge your battery to be the best you can be.”
Ensuring that women get a shot at procuring careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields has been of particular focus of President Barack Obama and his administration.The Department of Education is enhancing its Title IX Technical Assistance to specifically include STEM fields, and collaborating with the Department of Justice to create a complete guide for institutions receiving federal aid. These measures will help to ensure that more resources are directed towards improving equal access for women.In 2011, The Department of Education released a comprehensive tool that tracks trends in enrollment, ethnicity, educational programs, proficiency in English, and other data among public schools across the country. Recently, the DOE published a new set of data enabling researchers, policy makers, and the general public to analyze school retention, and participation in accelerated courses by gender, highlighting gender gaps in education.
The Title IX event consisted of two panels dubbed the “Intergenerational Views on the Impact of Title IX in Athletics,” and “Advancing Our Commitment to Title IX in Education” featuring speakers like Executive Director Tina Tchen of the White House Council on Women and Girls, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the Council on Women and Girls Valerie Jarrett, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz, Secretary of Educatio Arne Duncan, and former Senator Birch Bayh, among others.
Laurel J. Richie, president of the WNBA spoke about being a synchronized swimmer and cheerleader growing up, sports that, she felt she was more oriented toward because they were gendered as "girl[y]" sports.
“I didn’t think of other opportunities, either because of my own self perception or those around me that’s why I gravitated to because that’s what girls did.”
Leaping forward a generation, Richie said her nieces' ability to openly partake in whatever activities they desire, demonstrate progressive change in sports and societal attitudes.“They grew up in an environment where they knew no boundaries whether overtly or covertly." she added.
A current collegiate basketball player at the University of Louisville, Shoni Schimmel, highlighted the unique opportunities the sport has offered her. For Schimmel, who grew up on a Native American reservation, playing ball gave her a way out, and a chance to pursue a college education.
“Being around all my family, and watching them play sports was an opportunity for me to go ahead and do it," said Schimmel, "and get off the reservation and prove to everybody that you can do it. You can go out there and achieve your dreams.”
“The pathways of opportunity for everyone are going to be open. And it’s up to you to cease those opportunities," said Tom Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil rights in the Department of Justice. "We have so many cases that involve making sure science, technology, engineering, and math—those pathways are indeed open to everyone.”
Amisha Sisodiya is an online communications intern with Campus Progress.