Title IX in the Female Sports Development


The American feminist movement was at its peak in the second half of the 20th century. On the edge of the 60s and 70s, it focused attention on gender discrimination in schools which was impossible to ignore. The concentration on gender inequalities resulted in the recognition of the problem. It preconditioned an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was signed into law on June 23, 1972. Title IX stated that “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” (Mitchel & Ennis, 2007, p.xix). Its enforcement took some more time. However, it was a step forward to stop gender discrimination and enable women to participate in various spheres that were previously open to men. Although Title IX arose much argument, its impact on female involvement in sports was crucial.

The Essence of Title IX Enforcement

A new amendment was aimed at the elimination of gender-based discrimination at educational institutions that were federally funded (Katuna & Holzer, 2015). However, it did not give immediate results. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare issued additional regulations for Title IX implementation in 1975 and 1979. They demanded the creation of services “to support victims of sex-based discrimination in the school system, establish a Title IX coordinator, publicly disseminate the policies in place, and take both remedial and affirmative steps to increase the participation of students in programs or activities where bias has occurred” (Katuna & Holzer, 2015, p.83).

Title IX was also addressed in the context of reduction of campus sexual misconduct which was treated as a form of gender-based discrimination (Koss, Wilgus, & Williamsen, 2014). The Dear Colleague Letter of 2011 calls for ” reporting, humanizing the treatment of harmed parties and eliminating or reducing sexual misconduct” (Koss et al., 2014, p.243) to meet the demands of Title IX for equal access to education for female students.

The feminists were not unanimous about the enforcement of the amendment. Some of them were struggling for equal participation and supported the law. The others treated female involvement in sports, especially traditionally male sports, as the way to masculinity, and criticized it. Another opinion was that the increase in female participation will cut men’s opportunities in sports (Brake, 2010). However, the majority of the female part of society positively reacted to Title IX and its ideas progressed.

Title IX Impact on School and College Sports

The introduction of gender equality resulted in more opportunities for girls and women in sport. Compared to 300,000 female participants in high school sports during the 1971-1972 academic year which made only 7% of all athletes, the school year 2015-2016 came up with 3.3 million female athletes, or 42% (National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, 2017). The same tendency was observed in college sports. In 1971-1972 there were less than 30,000 female athletes, and in 2015-2016 the number increased seven times and amounted to 214,000 college female athletes. The budget distribution on male and female athletes also changed. It grew up from 2% to 47% within the 30-years period (NCWGE, 2017).

The broader female participation in high school and college sports has both health and social advantages. First of all, regular physical activity has a significant influence on health. For example, it decreases the risk of obesity which is the primary ladies’ concern by 7% (NCWGE, 2017). Regular exercise reduces exposure to heart disease, breast cancer, and osteoporosis (NCWGE, 2017). Secondly, female students participating in sports have better grades and general academic achievements.

Title IX and the Competition

Another contribution of Title IX to sports development is female representation on the international level. Initially, Title IX involved amateur sports in high schools and colleges. Its enforcement in 1972 encouraged the increase in both the number and quality of girls and women busy in the sport in various educational institutions. At a certain point, school and college athletes needed to go further. Thus, women began their difficult but successful way of professional sport. For example, already in 2000, there were two professional female football leagues (Brake, 2010). The rapid increase in female involvement in the National Olympic teams was also observed. As of 1972, the US Olympic team consisted of 400 people. Only 84 of them were women (NCWGE, 2017). At the Summer Olympics of 2012, the American team had 292 women who won 61 medals (NCWGE, 2017). They became the biggest female team in the history of the Olympic Games.

Women in Athletic Administration

After the implementation of Title IX which was aimed at establishing gender equity, the presence of women in administrative positions within the National Collegiate Athletic Association decreased (Estrada, Lugo, & Olmeda, 2016). One of the reasons for this fact was the merge of men’s and women’s departments. Carpenter and Acosta’s research (as cited in Estrada et al., 2016, p.210) revealed that as of 2014 women administrators in NCAA amounted only to 36.2%. However, it increased compared to 35.8% in 2012. Still, there are perspectives for female leaders in sports since women get equal education and gain leadership and managerial skills.


Title IX is a controversial law. It was actively discussed, criticized, and supported. However, its results are evident. It caused an exceptional growth of female participation in sports firstly at the school and college level, and later on the international arena. Gradually, it opened the way for women to professional sport. Although there still exists the ambiguous treatment of female athletes and the discrimination in the representation of their achievements is a topic for separate research, the role of Title IX should not be underestimated. It is not only the issue of gender equality that matters. The broad involvement of girls and women in sporting activities is a contribution to national health improvement. Thus, this amendment can be considered a moving power in the development of the female sport.


Brake, D.L. (2010). Getting in the game: Title IX and the women’s sports revolution. New York, NY: New York University Press.

Estrada, L.G., Lugo, S., & Olmeda, R. (2016). Women in NCAA athletic administration positions after title IX. International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health, 3(1), 209-212.

Katuna, B., & Holzer, E. (2015). Unobtrusively stretching law: Legal education, activism, and reclaiming Title IX. Social Movement Studies, 15(1), 80-96. Web.

Koss, M.P., Wilgus, J.K., & Williamsen, K.M. (2014). Campus sexual misconduct: Restorative justice approaches to enhance compliance with Title IX guidance. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, 15(3), 242-257.

Mitchel, N., & Ennis, L.A. (2007). Encyclopedia of Title IX and sports. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education. (2017). Title IX and athletics. Web.

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