What Is Title IX
It has been 50 years since Congress enacted Title IX and President Richard Nixon signed the groundbreaking gender equity in education document into law.
Title IX set a new standard that would change the landscape of women’s opportunities in the classroom and on the field.
As we celebrate half a century of the landmark law, it’s worth asking what Title IX is and remembering that things didn’t change overnight.
The Moment Female Athletes Realized The Differences
For some female athletes, the moment they realized they were treated differently than male athletes was at 10 years old, getting cut from the town Little League team. For others, it was sharing uniforms in college. For all, it’s a question of “when” not “if.” These are some of their stories.
1971: Simsbury Girls Rowing
Girls in Connecticut have been fighting for the chance to compete since before Title IX was written into law. Just ask the women from the 1971 Simsbury High School crew team who had no idea that the thing they had “no concept was a problem” turned into national headlines.
1976: Yale Rowing Protest
Five years later and about 50 miles to the south, the Yale Women’s Rowing team may have had the right to compete but they were still missing some of the most basic athletic services.
While the women sat on the bus, cold and wet after practice while their male counterparts showered and changed, they came up with a plan to protest that would show much more than just the stark contrast between the men’s and women’s facilities.
Spotlight: Joan Joyce Paved the Way
If you’re going to talk about women who paved the way in athletics, the name Joan Joyce is impossible to forget.
In Connecticut, she became a legend, pitching a softball 70 miles per hour with the Brakettes.
Across the country, she played on the LPGA tour, set records with the USA Women’s National Basketball team, co-founded the Women’s Professional Softball League with Billie Jean King and coached the Florida Atlantic University softball team until she passed away in March of this year.
Joyce had so many unforgettable stories but this one is hard to top.
Last summer, Legacy Theater in Stony Creek put on a musical about Joyce’s career. NBC Connecticut’s Matt Finkel had a chance to catch up with Joyce as she watched the show.
Stories of Title IX Game Changers, in Their Own Words
But Title IX didn’t magically create field time and facilities for all the female athletes who now had 37 words that said they were entitled to it. Rather, the law was often met with resistance.
So, for a movement that created so much positive change for women in athletics how did it become a negative term in many athletics offices?
2020: UConn Rowing Protest
Without warning, the Women’s Rowing Team learned they’d be one of four teams cut in an effort to mitigate the more than $40 million athletic department budget deficit. But they were prepared to fight it and their choice to do so has sent a ripple effect across the country that they never could have imagined.
2021: Trinity Field Hockey Title IX Lawsuit
At the same time that UConn Women’s Rowing was fighting for their team, Trinity Field Hockey found themselves fighting for something they thought was a given: bleachers. And as it turns out, they weren’t the only women’s team on campus feeling overlooked.
2022: Hall High School Athletes Learn From the Past
The 50th anniversary of Title IX has made many stop and reflect.
For all the work still left to do, it’s not without recognizing the progress too. At Hall High School in West Hartford, the girls track and field team did just that -- reaching out to the women who came before them to learn their stories that they’ll carry with them wherever they go.
Messages for Female Athletes Now
What do the women who made change happen want young women to take away from their Title IX experience? These are their messages for girls and young women making their own way in sports.