News Release

40th Anniversary of Title IX: Not Just Sports


Title IX was signed on June 23, 1972 by President Richard Nixon and became law on July 1, 1972.

JOANNE SMITH, jsmith at
Smith, founder and executive director of Girls for Gender Equity, Smith said today: “I benefited from Title IX’s opening up college athletics as many women and girls did, but that’s a small part of what it did. It opened up many aspects of higher education. Still, there is such a gap between the letter of the law and the application of the law. We believe that if administrators and educators were supported to uniformly implement the spirit of Title IX into the daily culture of the school there would be a reduction in gender-based harassment and violence in schools.” Smith is co-author of Hey, Shorty! A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets. See: “Title IX Turns 40, Flaws and All

MOLLY CARNES, mlcarnes at
Professor in the departments of medicine, psychiatry, and industrial & systems engineering and director of the Center for Women’s Health Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Carnes wrote a piece titled “What Would Patsy Mink Think?” for the Journal of the American Medical Association. The piece states: “Prior to Title IX, only about 10 percent of U.S. medical students were women. Title IX had a personal impact on my life because I entered medical school in 1974. I recently asked separately several women students if they knew what Title IX was. None did.”

Carnes notes that Title IX is also called the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in recognition of one of Title IX’s leading champions. “The 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress made toward gender equity in medicine… If we are committed to egalitarian principles and if we believe studies confirming that nothing about being a man or woman confers intrinsic superiority in any position within medicine, how could we explain to Patsy Mink our inability to achieve gender equity in the past 40 years after she worked so hard to make it possible?

“Although the explicit prejudice that many women in my generation experienced has been almost (albeit not entirely) eradicated, we are still left with the impact of societal stereotypes about men and women. Stereotypes portray women as more likely than men to be nurturing, supportive, and sympathetic (‘communal’ behaviors) and men as more likely than women to be decisive, independent, and strong (‘agentic’ or action-oriented behaviors). … The pervasiveness of implicit, stereotype-based bias and the way it infiltrates our decision-making processes even when we disavow prejudice may constitute the biggest impediment to realizing the full potential of Title IX.”

GWENDOLYN MINK, wendymink at
Gwendolyn Mink has been professor of policy and politics for 30 years and is the author of several books about policies affecting women’s equality. She also is the daughter of Patsy Mink. She said today: “Title IX was one of the biggest policy victories of the feminist movement. The most obvious barriers to women’s educational opportunities were struck down when the law went into effect and the changes accomplished have been long lived. But even so, Title IX’s champions anticipated that the road to full equality would be slow going and that navigating that road successfully would require never ending vigilance to ensure that implementing regulations are not diluted, that compliance is robust, and that girls and women throughout the educational process know their rights and remedies.

“Going forward, vigilant implementation of Title IX also must reach the culture of educational institutions, must dispel stereotypes that impose roadblocks to women’s incorporation on equal footing and must attend to the gross disparities in money and other resources that make it difficult for many girls and women to pursue opportunities that Title IX assures.”

A documentary about Patsy Mink, “Ahead of the Majority” was produced in 2009:.