This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

Contribute Thoughts | Search Serendip for Other Papers | Serendip Home Page

Women, Sport,
and Film - 2003


On Serendip

Why is Title IX a Social Justice Issue?

Monika Le

Why is Title IX a social justice issue? What effect does it have on women's lives who are not athletes?

Imagine this: Katie, a young student who is passionate about science, has dreams of becoming a doctor. She works hard all throughout middle school and high school, receiving top grades in all of her classes, and spends time out of school to educate herself about the medical field. Katie has volunteered in hospitals, research labs, medical clinics, and nursing centers so that she can explore the many different fields of medicine. She also spends a lot of time trying to connect with doctors and learn about what they do. She shows maturity and ambition more advanced than her years. Her future may end up following a number of paths, but here are two paths that are easily plausible.

Katie will go to college, but it is not one of her first choice schools because this particular top-tier university does not accept a large number of women to its entering freshmen class. Those women who are admitted are very intelligent, and also have the financial means to attend college. Unfortunately, Katie's family does not have the money to pay for full tuition, and although Katie would qualify for financial aid, she would not necessarily receive much financial assistance, if any at all because boys will be granted a majority of the funds. Similarly, Katie has difficulty receiving any scholarships or grants, despite the fact that she graduated top of her class.

Thus, Katie will attend the local college. She will major in a science and follow the pre-destined pre-med route. From here, another two paths can possibly emerge: this college does not have a very strong science program, and she lacks support from her professors, and the unqualified teaching assistants who teach her courses. Disillusioned, Katie switches her major and her dreams of becoming a doctor have disappeared. Another path may be that she makes the most of her situation and barrels through her science courses. She spends countless hours late at night in the lab and in the library. Yet, she is one of few women in her classes. She receives very little support from her professors and the science department. Her peers, mostly men, discourage her and dominate the classes in a number of ways. She may or may not complete college with the original intent of pursuing a career as a doctor.

Assuming that she does graduate from the local college with a science degree, there is no guarantee that she will even be admitted into medical school. At this level of education, the presence of women is scarce. Where before there were five other women at the local college in her advanced science courses, now there was only one woman for every 18 men who were applying to medical school. Again, the medical school's admissions committee is even more biased than at the undergraduate university level. There is even less financial aid for women than before. Scholarships for women attending medical school hardly even existed. Where before, Katie had a small chance to go to college and graduate as a pre-med student, now she little or no chance to gain admittance into medical school, much less graduate.

This was pre-1972, before Title IX was passed.

Many people think of Title IX as a regulation allowing women to participate in sports. Title IX allowed for women to participate in interscholastic and intercollegiate sports, and now evident as a result of Title IX is the professional women's basketball league. When Title IX became law, the playing fields were leveled for both men and women athletes. Women were now eligible for athletic scholarships. In addition, women were participating in sports originally viewed as masculine or male dominated events.

However, the reaches of Title IX surpassed the bounds of athletics. It also served to addressed the issue of gender inequity in the field of education. Gender inequity of any form is an issue of social injustice. Gender inequity in the form of education is especially an injustice, as that serves as a means of oppression. By not giving women the same allowances as men, we saw a high drop out rate, less women in the math and sciences, and less women pursuing higher degrees.

As of 1997, 25 years after the passage of Title IX, high school drop out rates among teenage girls have dropped drastically. Teenage mothers are allowed to graduate. Women made up the majority of students in America's colleges and universities. In addition they also made up the majority of those receiving master's degrees. Women are also entering business and law schools in record numbers. In fact, the United States is the world leader for the percentage of women attending college and receiving advanced degrees.

As a result of the access to higher education, women have also been given the opportunity to explore nontraditional professions. In 1993-94 women made up 58 percent of postsecondary vocational education students.

It has been 30 years since the passage of Title IX. Much progress has been made. While we celebrate the successes of this law, we also realize that there is still a lot that can be done to close the gender inequity gap. However, we recognize that this law did a great deal to begin to combat this form of social injustice.

All facts referenced from:
Riley, Richard W. "Title IX: 25 Years of Progress." U.S. Department of Education. June 1997. (accessed March 15, 2003).

| Forums | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994-2002 - Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-May-2018 10:51:19 CDT