Wellesley Students, Faculty and Staff Discuss 40 years of Title IX

June 25, 2012

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the federal legislation that prohibited sex discrimination in education and required most educational institutions to offer equal opportunities for women and men. The bill was signed into law on June 23, 1972.

Last week, Wellesley College junior volleyball player Alixandra Binney was a featured guest on NPR's The Takeaway where she reflected on her experience playing a varsity sport at a women's college. Binney, along side legendary sports figure Jackie Joyner Kersee,  discussed the impact of Title IX.

Title IX, which reads "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance," has certainly had an impact on higher education but Dean of Students Debra DeMeis and professor Rosanna Hertz, The Classes of 1919-1950 Professor of Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies and chair of the Women and Gender Studies department, say there's more to be done.

In a piece for Newsweek's The Daily Beast DeMeis and Hertz wrote, "There is no question that Title IX has enabled women to achieve extraordinary progress in domains previously restricted to men. However, its work is not done... We must not confuse progress in educational opportunity with parity." (Read: "Sex, Sports, and Title IX on Campus: The Triumphs and Travails").

DeMeis also talked to host Michel Martin on NPR's Tell Me More about what can be done  "One of the things I think that needs to happen is people need to realize the scope of Title IX, that it applies to how people select careers, that it applies to who gets to go to what schools, that it applies to athletics, that it applies to women who are often shut out of the process of higher education... I think we need to really educate people about the scope of it and how to use the power of Title IX," DeMeis said (listen to: "Title IX Turns 40, But as the Field Leveled?").

In February, Wellesley College hosted Title IX: 40 Years & Counting, a panel discussion that celebrated how the legislation positively influenced the growth and culture of women’s sports in America. The panel included: three-time Olympian and international soccer star Kristine Lilly; ESPN’s vice president for programming and acquisitions Carol Stiff; former Olympic rower and noted sports psychologist Amy Baltzell; the former Sports Illustrated writer who made headlines when SI sued Major League Baseball on her behalf for access to the locker room Melissa Ludtke '73; and an award-winning journalist, author, and founder and editor of FairGameNews.com Laura Pappano.