March Women History Month, handwriting on a handmade paper, contributions of women to events in history

Women’s History Month: Pioneers of Title IX

The beginnings of Women’s History Month can be traced to Santa Rosa, CA, when the county commission celebrated Women’s History Week in 1978 to encompass International Women's Day on March 8. The week-long designation spread from town to town until then-President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week in 1980. Seven years later, Congress designated March as Women’s History Month.

This annual designation would not be complete without highlighting some of the women instrumental in the creation of Title IX. This landmark legislation will soon celebrate its own special date, marking its 50th anniversary on June 23, 2022.

Disparity Prior to Title IX

Title IX is part of the Education Amendments of 1972 and prohibits sex-based discrimination in any education program or activity operated by a recipient of federal funding.

Prior to Title IX, women were subjected to unequal policies as students and faculty including the following:

  • Prohibited from participating in certain programs and activities
  • Required to have higher test scores and grades for admission to programs
  • Reduced access to scholarships
  • Subjected to earlier curfews
  • Denied tenure more frequently than male counterparts
  • Mandated pregnancy and maternity leaves

Much has changed since 1972, and Title IX continues to evolve. Updated Title IX rules are expected to be released before the anniversary date.

Women Who Made Their Mark on Title IX

There are women (and men) who continue to strive for a more equal landscape in education and athletics at educational institutions. But we first must recognize those who started it all.

  • Christine Grant: This Scottish-born pioneer came to the U.S. and earned her bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1969. A sports advocate from an early age, Grant helped shape the Title IX legislation. She influenced the direction of women’s athletics, seeking respect and opportunity throughout her lifetime. In 1977 she became Iowa’s first director of women’s intercollegiate athletics, a position she held until she retired in 2000. She was also a founding member of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW).
  • Edith Louise Starrett Green: Rep. Green made major contributions to the writing of the Title IX bill. This Oregon politician and educator introduced a bill in the late 1960s that contained provisions for equality in higher education. This bill eventually resulted in Title IX. Her dedication to education has earned her such nicknames as “the Mother of Education” and “Mrs. Education.”
  • Billie Jean King: Professional tennis player who campaigned for equality in women’s sports. She testified to Congress on the need for the passage of Title IX. In 1974, she founded the Women’s Sports Foundation to protect the aspects of Title IX that concern athletics. She continues to advocate for the law’s importance. King is also well known for her “Battle of the Sexes” victory over Bobby Riggs in 1973. She is one of nine female players, “Original 9,” who founded their own tour, the predecessor to the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
  • Donna Lopiano: Lopiano felt the sting of discrimination as a young girl. She loved to play baseball and was the first pick at her town’s Little League draft day. Yet she wasn’t allowed to play after a parent noted the rulebook stated girls weren’t allowed to play. Ahead of her time, she toured Europe and Asia as a member of the Connecticut Brakettes national championship women’s softball team in the 1960s. She was hired as an assistant athletic director at Brooklyn College and later became the first director of women’s athletics at the University of Texas in 1975. After only two weeks on the job in Texas, she testified against a proposed amendment to Title IX that would exempt some sports from Title IX regulations.
  • Patsy T. Mink: Rep. Mink of Hawaii was a major author and sponsor of the Title IX bill. She was the first woman of color and Asian-American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1964. She was also the first Asian-American woman to run for U.S. president (1971), vying for the Democratic nomination. In addition to Title IX, she also introduced the Women’s Educational Act of 1974, which allocated funds to promote gender equity in schools. After her death in 2002, the official name of Title IX was changed to the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.
  • Bernice R. Sandler: Sandler’s first taste of discrimination occurred when she learned in elementary school in the 1930s that she couldn’t be a crossing guard or operate the slide projector in class. Only boys could have those responsibilities. Although she had earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, she once again was on the receiving end of unfair treatment when she applied for full-time teaching jobs at the university level. In 1970, she filed a class-action lawsuit against all American universities. She also authored the first federal policy report about gender-based discrimination in education. Her report provided critical substance used in the Title IX legislation. She’s sometimes referred to as the “Godmother of Title IX.”

Responsive Criminal Defense for Title IX

Our attorneys at Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC are dedicated to Title IX law. Anyone accused of violating provisions of the law can face life-altering consequences. For students, Title IX hearings can lead to expulsion and push your educational goals off track. Employees can lose their job and struggle to find new employment.

You need legal guidance deeply steeped in Title IX with explicit knowledge on how to best guide clients. We offer strong support for anyone facing a Title IX violation. Schedule a consultation by calling (737) 200-2332.