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Level Playing Fields Terence Smith reports on leveling the playing field for women athletes after 30 years of Title IX. (7/4/02)
IX: Helping or Hurting?
The U.S. Civil Rights movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s tried to equalize opportunities for people of any gender, race, color, or religious belief.
Out of that movement came a controversial law called Title IX, designed to help open doors previously closed to females.
Equal playing fields
Title IX has a strange name because it is part of a series of educational amendments to U.S. laws passed in 1972.
It is best known as the law forcing many schools to equalize athletic opportunities for females and males.
Since it took effect, it has made a huge difference in the number of girls playing sports.
Thirty years ago, only seven percent of high school varsity athletes were female and today they represent 41 percent. Female varsity college athletes rose from 15 to 42 percent during the same time.
The Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education says Title IX increased sport participation for high school girls from almost 295,000 to over 2.6 million in 30 years.
Although women are participating more, there isn't complete equality in some school budgets and scholarship offerings according to some women's groups.
And other opponents say the increase hurts men's athletics because people misinterpret the law and feel they have to cut or reduce men's teams to add women's teams.
the playing field
More women are going to college than in 1972, and more women than men are receiving bachelors and masters degrees.
to a report by the NCWGE (the National Coalition for Women and Girls
in Education) women receive only 27 percent of computer science and
18 percent of engineering-related technology degrees.
Fixing the past
Prior to the 1970s, girls and boys did not always have the same opportunities in public schools.
In many areas, girls were limited to taking classes and participating in extracurricular activities on specific topics like child care, education, or secretary work.
Title IX said no
educational facility receiving federal funds could discriminate on the
basis of gender.
The ban against discrimination included career programs, grading, standardized tests, and even the way schools handle admissions.
Organizations that track the progress of women say despite the rise in athletic participation, a true indication of Title IX's success will be when it's not unusual to see a female engineer, female car mechanic, or even a male secretary at the doctor's office.
-- By Samara Aberman, NewsHour Extra
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