Women’s Education and Equity: Title IX

by WWN Communications Intern, Julia Mroczkowski

Title IX is a major civil rights law that has been instrumental to changes in gender equality in the United States. Title IX is a portion of the Educational Amendments and became effective June 23, 1972.[1] The act states that if an institution receives federal funding that institution cannot discriminate against individuals based on their sex. The statute influenced the Disability Act of 1973 and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, which ends discrimination for individuals with disabilities and elderly. Title IX increases equality among men and women in education, as well as athletics, and has decreased the educational gap between men and women by increasing the enrollment of women in college’s and universities. Title IX has positively impacted women’s access to advanced education since its adoption, but Title IX fails to protect women who attend universities from sexual assault.

Women have fought to gain educational equality in America. Title IX protects women who are married, pregnant, or parenting from discrimination. For example, until 1996, Georgetown University did not allow married women to attend.[2] Today, women have been granted the constitutional right of equal opportunity to education and any other activities in federally funded institutions. The constitution still has not adopted the equal rights amendment that would end sex discrimination. Before Title IX, women with a high school diploma had lower rates of attendance and completion of a college degree. In 1970, 8% of women who graduated from high school obtained a college degree; whereas, in 2009, 28% earned a college degree.[3] Now, women are no longer the minority but the majority of students that receive a four-year college and masters degrees. Women are also receiving more degrees in business and law. The increase in access to education is a considerable factor for women in the workforce. The positive social changes such as women involved in athletics and nontraditional fields are a result of Title IX.

Women are facing higher numbers of sexual assault, denying their civil rights and limiting equal access to education because colleges and universities are not providing services to handle sexual assault cases. A survey released July 2014 investigated 440 colleges and universities and found that 40 percent of schools have not investigated any cases of sexual assault in 5 years.[4] Resources and education need to be provided to schools on how to approach sexual assault cases. According to the National Institute of Justice, one in five women will experience rape in college.[5] Women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence or assault on campus than men. Research has shown that women are the victims of 90-95% of on campus assaults. Title IX holds college’s responsible for individual consequences of sexual assault. Of those found guilty of perpetrating on campus sexual assault, only 10-25% of those individuals are expelled from their colleges. Currently, 71institutions are being reviewed for possibly violating federal law on sexual violence complaints. [6] The funded institutions are not being held accountable for upholding Title IX because they are not punishing those who assault women. Title IX is not providing equal access to education for both sexes when women are assaulted on campus and there is no retribution. An increase in media attention has caused a focus on the issue of sex discrimination and sexual assaults at colleges and universities. Women are seeking support from the public to make positive changes on their campuses.

Title IX has provided women equal opportunity in receiving education and has influenced other laws that prohibit discrimination. Title IX positively affected women when it was first introduced in 1972, and continues to do so today, as women are receiving more advanced education than ever. Many colleges are not effectively implementing Title IX to protect women from sexual assault and provide equal education. The government needs to take this issue seriously so that women do not have to face sex discrimination for attending college.

[1] Title IX amends the Higher Education Act of 1965, the Vocational Education Act of 1963, the General Education Provisions Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, Public Law 874, Eighty-first Congress, and related Acts, and for other purposes.

[2] Title IX: A Sea Change in Gender Equity in Education. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2014, from https://www2.ed.gov/pubs/TitleIX/part3.html

[3] (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2014, from http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/edu/documents/titleixreport.pdf

[4] Web. 16 Jan. 2015. <http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SurveyReportwithAppendix.pdf&gt;.

[5] Campus Sexual Assault Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2014, from http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/campus-sexual-assault-stats

[6] U.S. Department of Education Releases List of Higher Education Institutions with Open Title IX Sexual Violence Investigations. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2014, from http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-releases-list-higher-education-institutions-open-title-i


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