This summer marks the 41st anniversary of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that banned discrimination based on gender in federally funded education. "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," it states. Title IX is 37 words, and 41 years later, it continues to affect education opportunity, greater participation of women in athletics and equal opportunity in learning environments. Learn about the women who had a hand in and benefited from Title IX, and how it changed America.
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Women's basketball player Pat Summitt, left, is the recently retired, all-time winningest NCAA basketball coach. Her family moved from Clarksville to Henrietta, Tennessee, so she could play on a girls high school basketball team. Both her brothers received athletic scholarships, but she did not in the pre-Title IX era. "When I think of Title IX, the one word that always comes to my mind is 'opportunity,'" Summitt said. "Specifically, it's an opportunity for little girls. As they grow up, if they want to compete in sports then they have that opportunity." By the time the Tennessee Lady Vols coach began coaching WNBA star Candace Parker, female participation in high school sports had dramatically increased.
Barbara Buttrick, left, began boxing when she was 18 years old, in 1948. She was the first woman to have her boxing match broadcast, and she participated in carnivals and circuses before boxing internationally. Today, boxer Marlen Esparza, right, has been a Covergirl and had endorsements. She was featured in Vogue magazine, a CNN documentary, and ESPN the Magazine's body issue. "The Olympics are a celebration of sports, and women should be able to celebrate sports just like men." Due in part to greater acceptance of women and girls playing sports and Title IX, Esparza, and female boxing, made their debut last year at the 2012 Olympics.
When she was 12, American tennis player Billie Jean King knew she wanted to break records and barriers in tennis. "I wanted to be the No. 1 tennis player in the world, and I wanted to use my success to change the face of our society to grant equal rights and opportunities for both men and women." Two years after Title IX, King created the Women's Sports Foundation. Throughout her career, she fought for equal pay in prize money for women. Inspired by King, Venus Williams later picked up the torch, speaking out about the issue. In 2007, due to their efforts, Wimbledon female and male champions were paid an equal amount.
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United States forward Mia Hamm, left, was born the year that Title IX was passed. She played soccer in high school, went on to become the first woman to win FIFA World Player of the Year and was inducted in the National Soccer Hall of Fame. "[T]here is no question that I eventually benefited from the development of women's soccer with my experience at (the University of North Carolina) and the growth of women's soccer in college," she shared about the impact of Title IX. Abby Wambach, right, has since become an international soccer star, and broke Hamm's all time international goal scoring record this year.
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Jackie Joyner-Kersee was born 10 years before Title IX. By the time she was in high school, Title IX allowed her to fully participate in high school track and field, where she set a record for the long jump. "Girls were able to practice right after school and we were able to pursue our dreams," she told CNN. She has broken records, won Olympic gold, and Sports Illustrated named her best female athlete of the 20th century. She credits Title IX for paving the way for the historic participation and wins by women in the 2012 Olympics. Kersee was an icon to Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix, who won three gold medals in the 2012 Olympics.
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U.S. Rep. Patsy Takemoto Mink co-authored Title IX, the women's educational equity act. Her daughter, Wendy Mink, became a professor, author and activist. In 2002, when Mink died, Title IX was renamed the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act. "I never had in my dreams and expectation ... that it would change entirely the notion of careers for women," Patsy Mink said in a documentary about her life.
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Title IX also affect the environment of educational institutions, linking sexual harassment as a form discrimination against women in schools. Catharine Mackinnon, left, was a sexual harassment pioneer credited with linking sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination. While she was at Yale Law school, she wrote a paper on sexual harassment, which later became a publication. Her writing influenced legal theory, and she was an adviser to students in Alexander v. Yale, the first case to test Title IX for sexual discrimination. More than 30 years later, her scholarship is still having an impact. In 2011, students, including Hannah Zeavin, right, charged Yale with being a sexually hostile place under Title IX. They later settled the charges.