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Women, Sport, and Film - 2004
Student Papers
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Title IX: A Social Justice Issue

Jessica Lee

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any educational programs or activity receiving federal financial assistance. (Preamble to Title IX)

Title IX was a social justice landmark for women in the United States. Women who directly benefited from Title IX were athletes, as it gave them opportunities to participate in sports in schools, receive the same amount of funding as the male sports programs, and for the first time gave women the opportunities to earn scholarships for sports. Indirectly, Title IX had an impact on all women in the United States, because it entitled them equal opportunity to education and created a provision against sexual discrimination. Title IX changed the expectations of women by giving them the opportunity to choose and compete, athletically, scholastically, professionally, politically, economically and socially.

Each Federal department and agency which is empowered to extend Federal financial assistance to any education program or activity, by way of grant, loan, or contract other than a contract of insurance or guaranty, is authorized and directed to effectuate the provisions of section 1681 of this title with respect to such program or activity by issuing rules, regulations, or orders of general applicability which shall be consistent with achievement of the objectives of the statute authorizing the financial assistance in connection with which the action is taken. (Title IX section 1682)

The visible effects of Title IX were mainly seen in the athletic arena, but the subtle effects of Title IX came to all women in the United States in the form of education. Education creates opportunities, channels creativity and challenges all students. As the proverb goes, ¡°knowledge is power¡±. By granting women opportunities previously granted only to men, Title IX empowered women by allowing them to pursue higher degrees, compete in athletics, and enter vocations and educational fields that had always been male dominated. Title IX required all high schools to provide equal funding and support for boys¡¯ and girls¡¯ sports; this was also extended to scholarship opportunities, broadening educational opportunities for women. Title IX also reduced the drop-out rate in high school by prohibiting schools from suspending, expelling, or discriminating against students who were pregnant. After Title IX, more girls were graduating from high school and going on to attend college or receive higher degrees.

Before Title IX, the number of women attending colleges and receiving higher degrees was significantly lower than the number of men receiving bachelor and higher degrees. Since 1972, the number of women earning master¡¯s degrees and doctoral degrees almost doubled. Women earning medical, law, dental, veterinary science, and pharmacy degrees also rose dramatically. In 1972, women earned just seven percent of all law degrees; by 1997, women received 44 percent. In the 1970s women earned only nine percent of all medical degrees; by 1997, they received 41 percent of medical degrees. In 1977, only twenty-five percent of all doctoral degrees went to women, by 1997 women earned 41 percent of all Ph.D.s. Women were also entering the business world, a field previously reserved for men. Since 1972, the number of women earning business degrees rose significantly; this not only opened the job market to women, but it also had a profound impact on women¡¯s lifetime earnings.

Since Title IX, women are able to hold as much power as men; women are no longer considered inferior or second rate; whether it be on the tennis court, or in the courtroom. Pregnant students are no longer forced to drop out of school; married or pregnant women are no longer forced to leave their jobs. Before Title IX, the primary roles expected of women were that of mother and wife. Today, women are not limited to this, and more importantly women are no longer forced to choose between being a mother or being a student; being a wife or being a business executive. Title IX is a social justice issue, because it grants women to aspire to what they choose and what they are capable of.

Title IX grants gender equity, thus it also affects men. Women entering the different vocational fields also opened up avenues for men. One example would be the field of nursing. Men have been discouraged from pursuing nursing; in 1972, the number of men with nursing degrees was 1 percent; by 1996, the number rose to 5.

No person in the United States shall, on the ground of blindness or severely impaired vision, be denied admission in any course of study by a recipient of Federal financial assistance for any education program or activity; but nothing herein shall be construed to require any such institution to provide any special services to such person because of his blindness or visual impairment. (Title IX section 1684)

This section of Title IX affects both men and women; visually impaired individuals were not only limited by their vision, but also by the stigma that society placed on them. Title IX removes much of this stigma by prohibiting discrimination against visually impaired persons. The importance of Title IX extends beyond just the changes it brought for female athletes; it brought about social progress by removing stereotypes and discrimination. It brought about social awareness of the different forms of discrimination in existence in the United States and changed the dynamics between men and women.

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