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International Women’s Month: Title IX Made a Profound Impact on American Sports

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As the world celebrates International Women’s Day and International Women’s Month, nothing has impacted American sports and universities more than the landmark 1970s Title IX federal law, which stated: “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.”

Since its passage, Title IX has had a profound impact on American sports, especially at the collegiate level. To observe the law’s 45th anniversary in 2017, the NCAA released a report that highlighted progress that has been achieved in the decades since the federal law was passed. The report also addressed areas that need further improvement.

Among the report’s key findings were:

  • The number of female student-athletes is at an all-time high. Both male and female student-athletes continue to set NCAA participation records year after year, but in the 2000s, men’s participation numbers in championship sports slightly outpaced women’s.
  • The low representation of minority women in NCAA leadership positions has remained mostly stagnant over the past five years. In that timespan, the percentage of minority female head coaches of women’s teams has remained at just under 14 percent. Just 2.5 percent of NCAA athletics directors are minority women.
  • Division I has the greatest gap in spending between men’s and women’s athletics programs, with athletics departments on average spending twice as much on their men’s programs. The spending is more equitable in Divisions II and III.
  • Women hold about 23 percent of all NCAA head coaching, athletics director and conference commissioner positions.
  • Over the past five years, women have outpaced men in acquiring conference commissioner positions. In 2015-16, women held 37 of the 142 available conference commissioner positions — up from 27 in 2010-11.

The full report can be read here.

By the United States Sports Academy


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