Happy 40th Anniversary, Title IX
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 … [20 U.S.C. 1681(a)]
Interestingly, the law does not mention athletics, which is a common association with Title IX. This week you can find many nice summaries of the law’s history and the ways in which athletics became intertwined with and affected by Title IX.
The law was passed the year before I was born, and I am certain that I have benefited from its influence. When I applied to college, I did not worry that I would be rejected based upon my sex. When I applied to law school, I safely assumed that I would not be the only woman in my class and that I could find a job based upon merit when I graduated. We are not so far from women being excluded from education simply based on sex and being treated quite differently once on campus and graduated. A fellow Penn alumna recently shared stories of her first days on campus in the 1970s, when women were segregated (into what is now a co-ed freshman dorm) and had restrictions on many aspects of their lives. We’ve all heard Justice O’Connor’s experience of being unable to find a job in the law upon graduating at the top of her Stanford Law class in 1952 (except as a legal secretary). What a difference for Justice Kagan, the youngest justice, who clerked for federal judges and was hired into a prominent D.C. law firm before teaching at premier law schools. I am a child of Title IX, and though I could easily focus on ongoing inequalities, today I just want to be grateful that the law has existed for my entire life in education.