A new report on Title IX, the landmark civil rights law passed 40 years ago that barred gender discrimination in education for all students, says that a great deal of progress in improving educational opportunities for girls has been made, but more work needs to be done.
Title IX is probably best known as a law that has affected female
participation in athletics, but it actually covers all aspects of education from kindergarten to the postgraduate level.
The report, titled “Title IX at 40: Working to Ensure Gender Equity in Education,” says that women’s advancement in some areas, including computer science and engineering, has stagnated or declined in recent years. It cites other areas where work is needed to improve educational opportunities for both sexes.
It was released by the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, a coalition of more than 40 national organizations chaired by the American Association of University Women.
Critics of Title IX often say that it has harmed male athletics in its insistence on increasing opportunities for females in school sports. Here, from the report (with footnotes removed), are some myths about how the law has affected school athletics:
What the Law Says
Title IX requires that schools treat both sexes equally with regard to three distinct aspects of athletics: participation opportunities, athleticscholarships, and treatment of male and female teams.
Myth 1: Title IX requires quotas.
Title IX does not require quotas; it simply requires that schools allocate participation opportunities in a nondiscriminatory way. The three-part test is lenient and flexible, allowing schools to comply even if they do not satisfy the first part. The federal courts have consistently rejected arguments that Title IX imposes quotas.
Myth 2: Title IX forces schools to cut sports for boys and men.
Title IX does not require or encourage the cutting of any sports. It does allow schools to make choices about how to structure their programs as long as they do not discriminate. Instead of allocating resources among a variety of sports, many college administrators are choosing to take part in the basketball and football “arms race” at the expense of other athletic programs. In Division I-FBS (formerly Division I-A), for example, basketball and football consume 80% of total men’s athletic expenses. Average expenditures on football alone in this division ($12+ million) exceed average expenditures on all women’s sports ($8+ million).
Myth 3: Men’s sports are declining because of Title IX.
Opportunities for men in sports — measured by numbers of teams as well as athletes — have continued to expand since the passage of Title IX. Between the 1988–1989 and the 2010–2011 school years, NCAA member institutions added 3,727 men’s sports teams and dropped 2,748, for a net gain of nearly 1,000 men’s teams. The teams added and dropped reflect trends in men’s sports: wrestling and gymnastics teams were often dropped, while soccer, baseball, and lacrosse teams were added. Women made greater gains over the same period, but only because they started at such a deficit; 4,641 women’s teams were added and 1,943 were dropped. During the 2010– 2011 school year, NCAA member institutions actually dropped slightly more women’s teams than men’s teams.
Myth 4: Title IX requires schools to spend equally on male and female sports.
The fact is that spending does not have to be exactly equal as long as the benefits and services provided to the men’s and women’s programs are equal overall. The law recognizes, for instance, that football uniforms cost more than swimsuits; therefore, a discrepancy in the amount spent on uniforms for men’s teams versus women’s teams is not necessarily a problem. However, the school cannot provide men with top-notch uniforms and women with low-quality uniforms, or give male athletes home, away, and practice uniforms and female athletes only one set of uniforms. A large discrepancy in overall funding is a red flag that warrants further scrutiny. There is currently a large gap among Division I-FBS schools, where women receive just 28% of the money spent on athletics.
Myth 5: Men’s football and basketball programs subsidize female sports.
The truth is that these high-profile programs don’t even pay for themselves at most schools. Even among the most elite divisions, nearly half of men’s football and basketball programs spend more money than they generate.
And, from the report, here are barriers to female participation in female participation in athletics:
Despite great gains over the past 40 years, barriers to true equality still remain:
* Girls have 1.3 million fewer chances to play sports in high school than boys. Opportunities are not equal among different groups of girls. Fewer than two-thirds of African American and Hispanic girls play sports, while more than three-quarters of Caucasian girls do.
* Three-quarters of boys from immigrant families are involved in athletics, while fewer than half of girls from immigrant families are.
* In addition to having fewer participation opportunities, girls often endure inferior treatment in areas such as equipment, facilities, coaching, scheduling, and publicity.
* At the most competitive level, Division I-FBS schools, women make up 51% of students, yet they have only 45% of the opportunities to play intercollegiate sports. Female athletes at these schools receive 42% of the total athletic scholarship dollars, 31% of the dollars spent to recruit new athletes, and just 28% of the total money spent on athletics.
* Since Title IX was passed, there has been a dramatic decrease in the proportionate role of female coaches. In 1972, 90% of women’s teams were coached by females, while today 43% are. Only 2–3% of men’s teams are coached by women. As the number of women’s teams has increased, the percentage of female coaches has continued to drop.