Title IX 50 Years Later
By Morgan Nguyen, Girls Inc. Participant
The original objective of the Education Amendment’s 1972 Title IX was to prohibit sex discrimination in all federally funded educational institutions. The decision resulted in a substantial expansion in women’s access to education. Today, many girls and young women have lived their entire lives in a post-Title IX world of opportunities—a huge difference from women just 30 or 40 years their senior. Because Title IX afforded rights and opportunities now seem as commonplace, many of us are uninformed about Title IX, its impact, and its historic significance. Even as a long-time participant in Girls Inc., who has supported this legislation since its inception, I didn’t realize how different my life would have been if Title IX hadn’t been passed.
In fact, during my research, when surveying my peers, one of three said they knew next to nothing about the law. Of the students who knew, they only did so because of their involvement in athletics as opposed to the expansion of educational opportunities as a whole. I don’t believe they don’t want to learn about the topic; rather, the topic isn’t highlighted as much as it should be, and they don’t have the lived experience to fully appreciate the progress that has been made. This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but it is something that should be addressed to guarantee that all girls in the United States realize the significance of Title IX.
As a girl who plans to double-major in Political Science and Computer Information Systems this Fall, I don’t think I would have been able to experience any science, technology, engineering, and mathematics- (STEM-) related opportunities without Title IX. And, I might not have identified my passion so boldly or declared my intentions to my peers without concerns about discrimination or prejudice. As president of the Robotics Club and vice president of the Math Club, I am surprised that Title IX hadn’t been brought to my attention before. Title IX has opened multiple possibilities for girls in the STEM industries. But, while Title IX ensures that girls have access to opportunities, our presence is still unequal: my Robotics Club has a 2-to-5 girl-to-boy ratio, and the Math Club has a 2-to-3 ratio. These low ratios are not because girls are not interested; it has been shown that girls’ interest and achievement in STEM has reached an all-time high. So, why is this disparity still present?
Despite the fact that Title IX has given the next generation of female leaders more courage in pursuing their passions without fear of judgment, more needs to be done to put systems in place that allow them to succeed. As more girls enroll in STEM programs and become involved with the equitable opportunities provided by Title IX, it makes one wonder whether the legacy of the Act can be sustained if girls and young women are not familiar with Title IX, the rights they have, or how things were before the law was passed. While it’s important that we recognize, appreciate, and celebrate the great progress Title IX has enabled over the last 50 years, we must also acknowledge and address the challenges that remain on the road to achieving gender equality.
Morgan Nguyen is a senior at La Quinta High School in California and is also dual-enrolled at Coastline Community College in its cybersecurity program. Nguyen has been involved in Girls Inc.* since she was 13 years old and participates in her school’s Robotics Club, Math Club, and Mock Trial—all of which have increased their membership, particularly among girls, since the series of expansions that she led. By highlighting the history of Title IX and its importance, Nguyen has attracted new girls to the programs, allowing them to discover and pursue their passions freely and without inhibition.
*Girls Inc. is a national organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold through direct service and advocacy. We work with schools and in communities to provide the mentoring relationships, safe spaces, and evidence-based programming that are proven to help girls succeed. Our network of 77 local organizations serves girls in grades K–12 in 350 cities across the United States and Canada.