June 23rd is the 40th anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, prohibiting gender discrimination in education.
Since the passage of Title IX, the number of girls who compete in high school sports has grown ten-fold—from fewer than 300,000 in 1972 to over three million in 2011. Moreover, collegiate athletic programs experienced a six-fold increase in the number of female athletes over the past 40 years. The number of young males playing sports has also increased as a result of Title IX, as more opportunities have been made available at all levels of play.
Despite the many important advancements spurred by Title IX, our nation still has a long way to go before female athletes compete on a level playing field with males. Unequal access, financial assistance and treatment for girls and women in sports still exist in too many communities and educational institutions, and these disparities are often more prevalent among minority and underserved populations, including people with disabilities.
The availability of athletic scholarships dramatically increases a young woman’s ability to pursue a college education and to choose from a wider range of colleges and universities. We also know that competitive sports programs promote greater academic and employment success, improved personal skills and a variety of health benefits for women and girls. Unfortunately girls and women still have fewer opportunities to participate in school sports than their male counterparts, and female athletes still do not receive an equal share of athletic scholarship dollars.
Legendary civil rights leader and tennis champion, Billie Jean King, is one of the most outspoken advocates of Title IX and educational institutions’ full adherence to the law. We are proud to have Billie Jean as a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. Her unparalleled accomplishments, and her dedication to promoting the myriad benefits of Title IX, are an ongoing reminder of the importance of achieving gender equity in all parts of our society.
To learn more about the Title IX, visit www.fitness.gov.