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Title IX and the Growth of Women’s Athletics

Connecticut's Diana Taurasi drives to the basket as Virginia Tech's Kerri Garden, right, defends in the first half of the Big East Women's Basketball Championship semifinal on March 10, 2003.

Institutionally supported women’s athletics was under-funded and ignored in the past. Some outstanding athletes, such as Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Margaret Court and Althea Gibson broke through, but women’s athletics at all levels — scholastic, intercollegiate and international — were decidedly subordinated to men’s sports.

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, as many women demanded equal rights, athletics was one more arena where the struggle for equality would be fought. An important victory occurred in 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed into law Title IX. It mandated that institutions getting federal funding must fund athletics for men and women on a proportional basis or risk losing their federal money. Title IX has proved an invaluable ally in the promotion of women’s athletics.

To comply with Title IX, Kansas State University, like all state universities, must present equal opportunities for men and women in athletics.

Participation in intramural sports among girls and women has risen exponentially. At the college level, the numbers of women athletes have risen from 32,000 to 150,000 with over 10,000 scholarships going to female athletes.

One of the great success stories coming out of Title IX is the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team (UConn Huskies). The team won the Big East tournament for the twelfth time in the 2004-2005 season and won three N.C.A.A. Championships from 2002-2004. Some Huskies’ stars, such as Rebecca Lobo, have become superstars in the W.N.B.A

Jackie Joyner-Kersee jumps during the qualifying round of the women's long jump at the 5th World Track and Field Championships.

Due in large part to Title IX, successful female athletes are no longer looked upon as anomalies, but rather as athletes in their own right. Moreover, women’s athletics has often been a successful path for the empowerment of girls and young women.

 

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