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Forty years ago, women earned only 7% of all law degrees and 9% of all medical degrees. Only 4% of high school girls played varsity sports. Now, in the post-Title IX era, women earn 47% of law degrees and 43% of medical degrees, and 40% of high school girls play varsity sports. Women remain underrepresented in certain academic fields, and male athletes continue to receive far more support in college athletic scholarships, but the advances are revolutionary. 

Title IX was born during the “Great Society” presidency of Lyndon Johnson with the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), which was passed to promote economic growth and development through improved access to college education. In its original form, HEA provided money to universities for research, created federal need-based scholarships, and funded low-interest student loans. In 1972, HEA was reauthorized and amended to include what is commonly referred to as Title IX. 

Title IX improved access and expanded opportunities for female students by prohibiting sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving federal funds. Exemptions have been made for certain groups, such as single-sex institutions, fraternities & sororities, and sex-specific youth organizations like Girls Inc. or the Girls Scouts. 

Although Title IX is most commonly associated with athletics, the legislation was not specifically intended to address disparities in this area. It was intended to improve access and promote equality in all educational activities, for both students and teachers. For instance, Title IX also applies to math and science education, areas in which women are traditionally underrepresented. Title IX can’t be used to force women to study disciplines in which they are not interested but instead protects girls from discriminatory practices such as discouraging them from enrolling in certain classes.

In addition, Title IX prohibits employment discrimination for positions in educational institutions, protects all students, male or female, from sexual harassment, and helps to prevent teen pregnancy from resulting in school dropouts by guaranteeing quality education and support for female students who are pregnant or with children.

Please join us in celebrating the 40th anniversary of this landmark legislation. On Wednesday, March 21, Girls Inc. Celebrates 40 Years of Title IX with a special presentation of Generation IX, an award-winning documentary about the state of women’s athletics in a post-Title IX world. The screening, followed by a discussion, will take place on Wednesday, March 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the Butler University Pharmacy Building, Room 204.

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