In recognition of International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8th, Six Star Pro Nutrition is excited to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality, and continue lobbying for accelerated gender parity. The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose To Challenge.’ Since we here at Six Star Pro Nutrition also believe that a challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change, we #ChooseToChallenge and hope you will join us.
After all, as world-renowned feminist, journalist, and activist Gloria Steinem once explained, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist, nor to any one organization, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” So, on this global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, it’s up to all of us to do what we can to truly make a positive difference for women. Let’s start by taking a closer look at the timeline of Title IX, which prohibits federally funded educational institutions from discriminating against students or employees based on sex, and also celebrate some of the major accomplishments in women’s sports since then.
Before Title IX, there weren’t many opportunities for female athletes. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which was created in 1906 and had become the ruling body of college athletics, offered no athlete scholarships for women and held no championships for women’s teams. Facilities, supplies, and funds were also lacking for women athletes. This led to only just 30,000 women participating in NCAA Sports in 1972 compared to 170,000 men.
Title IX was designed to correct those imbalances, and was patterned after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of race. The main clause of Title IX is: “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.”
1964: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is enacted, prohibiting discrimination in employment based on race, color, sex, national origin, or religion. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in federally assisted programs – including educational programs – on the basis of race, color and national origin, but not on the basis of sex.
1967: President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who is often referred to by his initials LBJ, signs Executive Order 11375, which prohibits federal contractors from employment practices that discriminate on the basis of sex. This lays the groundwork for future gender-equity legislation.
1970: Congress holds the first hearings on sex discrimination in higher education.
1972: Title IX of the Education Amendments Act is enacted by Congress and is signed into law by President Richard Nixon. Birch Bayh (Senate) and Edith Green (House of Representatives) are the sponsors of Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financial aid.
1973: Tennis player Billie Jean King defeats former No. 1 ranked men’s player Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match, which was witnessed by over 30,000 spectators and 50 million TV viewers worldwide. King’s achievement not only helped legitimatize women’s professional tennis and female athletes, but it was seen as a victory for women’s rights in general.
1974: Tower Amendment, which would have exempted revenue-producing sports from Title IX compliance is proposed and rejected. Javits Amendment, an alternative to the Tower Amendment, is passed. It states that Title IX regulations must include reasonable provisions considering the nature of particular sports. Also in 1974, The Women’s Professional Football League is formed.
1975: The Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) issues final Title IX regulations, particularly as it applies to athletics. Elementary schools are given one year to comply, while high schools and colleges are given three years to comply. HEW publishes “Elimination of Sex Discrimination in Athletics Programs” in the Federal Register and sends it to school officials and college and university presidents.
1976: The NCAA files a lawsuit challenging the legality of Title IX, claiming that no athletic programs receive direct federal funds. The suit is dismissed. Also in 1976, 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci becomes the first to achieve a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event at the 1976 Montreal games. She wins gold in the all-around, beam, and uneven bars.
1979: HEW issues a Policy Interpretation, “Title IX and Intercollegiate Athletics,” introducing the “three-part test” for assessing compliance with Title IX’s requirements for equal participation opportunities. Also in 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Cannon v. University of Chicago that individuals have the right to sue under Title IX.
1980: The Department of Education is established and given oversight of Title IX through the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). And in Alexander v. Yale, an appeals court establishes that sexual harassment is illegal because it is a form of sex discrimination covered by Title IX.
1981-1982: For the first time, the NCAA crowns Division I national champions in women’s cross country, basketball, softball, tennis, field hockey, volleyball, golf, swimming, gymnastics, and outdoor track. The Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, which had administered championships for the previous 10 years, is dissolved.
1982: Women earn more bachelor’s degrees than men for the first time.
1984: The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Grove City v. Bell that Title IX applies only to the specific programs within an institution that receive targeted federal funds. A significant setback for Title IV, this decision eliminates Title IV coverage of most athletic programs and other activities and areas of schools and colleges not directly receiving federal funds. Schools cut recently added women’s teams, and the Office for Civil Rights cancels 23 investigations. Also in 1984, Victoria Roche becomes the first girl to play in the Little League World Series. The Little League World Series began allowing girls to play in the late 1970s, but Roche, an outfielder, was the first to reach the World Series.
1986: Basketball player Nancy Lieberman becomes the first woman in a men’s pro league joining the Springfield Fame of the United States Basketball League.
1987: OCR publishes “Title IX Grievance Procedures: An Introductory Manual” to assist schools with their obligation to establish a Title IX complaint procedure and designate a Title IX coordinator to receive those complaints.
1988: The Civil Rights Restoration Act is passed over President Ronald Reagan’s veto. This Act overturns the Supreme Court’s ruling in Grove City v. Bell and restores Title IX coverage to all of an educational institution’s programs and activities if any part of the institution receives federal funds. Also in 1988, tennis player Steffi Graf completes the only Golden Slam in tennis history by winning all four Grand Slam singles titles and the Olympic gold medal in the same calendar year.
1990: OCR updates and finalizes its Title IX Investigators’ Manual.
1991: The first FIFA Women’s World Cup is held in China. The U.S., featuring a roster of current or former NCAA Division I players, beats Norway 2-1 in the final.
1992: In Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools, the Supreme Court rules unanimously that students who suffer sexual harassment in schools may be awarded monetary damages under Title IX. Also in 1992, the NCAA publishes a Gender-Equity Study of its member institutions, detailing widespread sex discrimination in athletics programs. The study finds that while women make up 55% of undergraduate students, men constituted 70% of student-athletes and received 70% of scholarship funds, 77% of operating budgets, and 83% of recruiting money. The NCAA forms the Gender-Equity Task Force. Also in 1992, goalie Manon Rheaume makes the first appearance by a woman in a NHL preseason game playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
1993: Howard basketball coach Sanya Tyler sues the university for sex discrimination under Title IX in a D.C. superior court, saying she was paid much less than her men’s counterpart. Tyler receives the first monetary award given by a jury in a Title IX case – $2.4 million, which was later reduced to $1.1 million. Also in 1993, Brown University is ordered to reinstate the women’s gymnastics and volleyball programs after a federal court finds that the university does not meet any part of the OCR’s three-prong test. The number of male and female athletes was not substantially proportionate to their respective enrollments, there was no history of expanding participation opportunities, and Brown was not effectively accommodating the interest of female athletes. Julie Krone also makes history in 1993, becoming the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race.
1994: A U.S. Court of Appeals upholds a ruling for the University of Illinois, which had terminated its men’s swimming program the year before. The members of the team had sued on the grounds that they were denied equal opportunity, but this case, along with several others around this time, set a precedent that men may not use Title IX to claim sex discrimination when their programs are cut for budgetary reasons. Also in 1994, the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) is passed, requiring that any co-educational institution of higher education that participates in any federal student financial aid program and that sponsors an intercollegiate athletics program must disclose certain information concerning its intercollegiate athletics programs. Under the EADA, annual reports are required from these institutions to allow for better monitoring of Title IX compliance.
1996: In response to growing concern that schools are cutting men’s programs to reach proportionality, the OCR issues a clarification of the three-part “Effective Accommodation Test,” which reiterates the requirements of the policy interpretation that institutions may choose any one of three independent tests to demonstrate that they are effectively accommodating the participation needs of the underrepresented gender. In the summer of 1996, women’s soccer and softball are part of the Olympic program for the first time at the Atlanta Games, and the U.S. teams win gold in both events. Also in 1996, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is formed.
2000: The first women’s football Super Bowl is played at Pasadena Stadium in Texas.
2001: Communities for Equity v. Michigan High School Athletic Association is decided, holding a state athletic association liable under Title IX, the Equal Protection Clause, and Michigan state law for discriminating against girls by forcing six girls’ sports teams, but no boys’ sports teams, to compete in nontraditional and/or disadvantageous seasons.
2002: New Mexico placekicker Katie Hnida is the first woman to appear in a Division I-A football game. She also becomes the first woman to score in a Division I-A game eight months later when she kicks two PATs.
2003: The Title IX Commission on Opportunity in Athletics issues its report, recommending significant and damaging changes to the Department of Education athletic policies. The Secretary of Education rejects all recommendations, and issues a “Further Clarification of Intercollegiate Athletics Policy Guidance Regarding Title IX Compliance,” affirming the existing policies in July. Also in 2003, golfer Annika Sorenstam is given a sponsor’s exemption, making her the first woman since 1945 to play in a PGA event.
2005: The Department of Education issues a policy clarification stating that schools may survey female students’ interest in sports via e-mail. Institutions are allowed to equate a failure to respond with a lack of interest. Title IX supporters say this will inhibit schools from achieving greater gender equity. (The Obama Administration rescinds the provision in April 2010.)
2009: The Women’s Premier League Rugby is formed.
2010: The Women’s Spring Football League is formed.
2011: The Department of Education issues a policy guidance, which makes clear that Title IX’s protections against sexual harassment and sexual violence apply to all students, including athletes. It addresses athletics departments in particular when it requires schools to use the same procedures that apply to all students to resolve sexual violence complaints involving student athletes. Also in 2011, a federal court finds that UC Davis failed to provide sufficient athletic opportunities for women. US Davis settles with the three female wrestlers, who were cut from the varsity team and filed the lawsuit in 2003, paying more than $1.3 million to cover attorneys’ fees.
2013: Soccer player Mia Hamm becomes the first woman inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame.
2015: The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) is created, becoming the first North American hockey league to pay female players a salary.
2018: Ronda Rousey becomes the first woman inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
2021: In high school, the number of female athletes has increased from just 295,000 in 1972 to more than 2.6 million today. And in college, the number has grown from 30,000 in 1972 to more than 150,000. Title IX has also been credited with decreasing the dropout rate of girls from high school and increasing the number of women who pursue higher education and complete college degrees.