Title IX is a specific component of the Education Amendments of 1972. It says that no person in the United States shall be excluded from participating in, subjected to discrimination, or be denied the benefits of any education program or activity that receives financial assistance from the government on the basis of sex.
That means the primary benefit of Title IX is that it requires schools to provide equal access to men and women for opportunities that are being offered if they receive federal funding. Rulings that have involved Title IX have covered sexual violence, harassment, and even athletics access since it was passed.
The primary disadvantage of Title IX is that the language says “sex” instead of “gender.” Because of this, some have argued that the language in the Education Amendments should not apply to transgender, intersex, or non-binary individuals.
Here are some of the other pros and cons of Title IX to think about.
List of the Pros of Title IX
1. It has opened the door to more educational opportunities for women.
Before Title IX, most athletic scholarship opportunities were granted to men. The Education Amendments created more access for women to receive scholarships because equal opportunities had to be provided. At the same time, schools were able to create more diversity within their student body and offer new opportunities that could expand their recruiting influence.
2. It created more opportunities for women.
In the 2012 Olympics, the United States sent more female athletes to the games than male athletes. Women brought home more gold medals for the U.S. than the men did as well. Because there was more access to opportunity, women were able to begin bridging the gaps that had been in place between men and women for generations before. In 1972, there were about 30,000 women participating in sports that were sponsored by the NCAA. Today, more than 500,000 women are participating.
3. It has helped men gain equal access too.
Although Title IX has benefitted women greatly since it was passed, men have seen some equal access opportunities as well. Sports that were traditionally only available to women now allow men to participate in them as well. The goal was to eradicate the role of gender in decisions regarding education and access for everyone. Society did have a bias toward providing more opportunities to men than women when Title IX was originally passed, so women saw the most gains, but men benefit too.
4. Career education has flourished under Title IX.
Because of Title IX, boys can take home economics classes in high school. Girls are able to take shop classes. Instead of funneling students into careers that fit a specific gender profile, Title IX allows schools to identify individualized student skills and attributes and match them with classes that can help them establish a positive future.
5. It stopped student expulsions.
Did you know that before 1972, student administrators could legally expel girls from schools simply because they were pregnant? Even young parents attending college could find it difficult to attend classes because of their home responsibilities. Title IX opened new opportunities for schools to address this demographic by creating flexible programs that worked with personal schedules while requiring the coursework to be comparable to any other program.
6. It stopped educational stereotypes.
Before Title IX was passed, there were gender stereotypes applied to educational opportunities. Boys were seen at being better at science and mathematics. Girls were expected to become wives and mothers, so they were “good” at domestic coursework. Now gender stereotypes are challenged in the classroom, allowing everyone to pursue whatever courses and classes that pique their interest.
7. High school sports have benefited from Title IX as well.
Title IX often looks at collegiate sports, but high school athletics have benefited as well. Before 1972, just 1 in 27 girls played high school sports at a varsity level. After 30 years of Title IX being present, 1 in 2.5 girls played varsity high school sports. About 3 million teen girls are playing at the high school level today because of Title IX. In return, that means many girls have more self-confidence and are more outgoing because they’ve had similar access to opportunities when compared to men.
List of the Cons of Title IX
1. It eliminated programs instead of increasing access in some instances.
With Title IX in place, schools faced a choice: lose funding or create equal access. Many schools found that creating equality required too much money, so they cut programs to meet the Title IX expectations instead. Many universities cut athletics programs, scholarship numbers, and educational programs. Instead of creating greater access, schools that couldn’t afford to expand opted for lesser access instead.
2. Money is still not allocated properly in many schools.
The budget for men’s programs at modern universities are often more than the percentage of men that make up the student body. For the average public university, women make up 53% of the student body, but receive 40% of the funding for education and athletics access. That means they are still not receiving true equal access, even if the school is following the letter of the law.
3. It has encouraged more sexual violence.
Statistics show that 1 in 4 women will experience sexual harassment and violence while attending college. These rates are higher than before Title IX and some attribute it to the equal access that is required by it. Instead of having men and women be separated, they are together more often and schools have struggled to put in structures that provide an adequate level of protection.
4. It had the opposite effect in coaching.
Because there was equal access granted to women, the role of women’s coaching began to fade away at the collegiate level. To gain new recruits, more money was funneled into programs and that increased the wages that coaches were being offered. Men became interested in women’s coaching jobs and the societal bias of the time caused many programs to hire male coaches instead of female coaches. In 1972, 90% of women’s college teams were coached by women. In 2012, 57.1% of women’s college teams were coached by men.
5. It can limit choices.
Many schools focus their definition on equality based on scholarships instead of choice. That has the effect of limiting the choices for men’s athletics because deeper rosters are usually required for the sports. At Illinois State, the college fields 11 different athletic teams for women, but only 8 different athletic teams for men. At the same time, however, their issued scholarships are almost equal every year.
6. How Title IX applies to transgender students has varied.
Under guidelines published by the Obama Administration, Title IX prohibitions on discrimination were extended to claims of gender identity. This was an outcome of lawsuits filed by transgender students being harassed or discouraged from expressing their desired gender identity. This included being able to use the restroom of their gender identity. In 2017, the Trump Administration reversed the guidelines, leaving how Title IX applies in doubt once again.
7. Taxpayers pay for Title IX failures at public universities.
In 2016, Florida State University announced a $950,000 settlement with Erica Kinsman, resolving her lawsuit against the athletic department of the university. She claimed that he administration had concealed her accusations of sexual assault against the school’s star quarterback. The school would go onto the national championship game in men’s football. The settlement, along with over $400,000 in legal fees, was paid for by the Emergency Management Fund of the state.
8. Title IX has also hurt women’s athletics.
One of the unintended consequences of Title IX has been an increase in injuries to female athletes. Because of the higher levels of sports access, women have been able to specialize in one specific sport and play it year-round, just like men have been able to do. More than 50% of the injuries that are seen in high school and collegiate sports are due to overuse. For women, one of the biggest concerns is an ACL injury, as female athletes are up to 5 times more likely to experience a tear compared to male athletes.
9. Increased athletics may cause eating disorders.
Female athletes that exercise too much may find themselves eating too little. When this occurs, bone loss can happen and some women may even see their menstrual cycles cease. In some sports, more than 4% of women experience these issues and up to 62% of female college athletes report a history of an eating disorder.
The pros and cons of Title IX show us that many benefits have been accomplished because of its language and how it has been interpreted. There are certain challenges that society will continue to face as the role of sex and gender continue to be explored, but as long as we all keep an open mind and look to the successes seen in the past, Title IX will continue to provide positive benefits.
How do you feel about Title IX and its implementation?