From Fair Pay to Fair Play: Title IX 40 Years Later
With about 20 meters left in the 3,200, West Liberty-Salem High School junior Meghan Vogel personified the purpose of Title IX in its 40th year.
As Vogel set her eyes on the finish line, her opponent, Arden McMath, started to collapse from fatigue. Instead of leveraging her advantage and immediately passing her, Vogel chose an alternative route. She lifted McMath up and helped carry her across the finish line.
When asked about her incredible show of sportsmanship, Vogel simply stated, “…I just did what I knew was right and what I was supposed to do.”
Leadership. Barely an afterthought to Vogel.
Such is the power of women’s athletics.
EMILY’s List women have long been at the forefront of championing women’s issues from fair pay to fair play. Title IX legislation, first introduced in the 1970’s, was co-authored by Patsy Mink, an EMILY’s List alum. Her pro-choice, Democratic women successors like Barbara Mikulski and Patty Murray have been defenders of the cause ever since, working not only to override vetoes but to expand the legislative protections of women’s sports.
Title IX passed on June 23, 1972, ensuring that girls and boys would receive equal opportunities to learn leadership qualities (like those shown by Vogel) through sports and education. At the time, one in 27 girls played varsity high school sports and 32,000 women played on intercollegiate teams nationwide.
Fast forward 40 years and about one in three girls play high school sports and over 150,000 women compete in college athletics.
But Title IX is about much, much more than athletics. Girls participating in team sports earn higher grades, enjoy higher self-esteem, develop more friendships, and have better physical and emotional health over a lifetime.
Title IX has helped more women rise to the top. Today’s young women athletes wear more caps and gowns and more business suits, too. In fact, four out of five female business executives reported playing sports growing up and attributed part of their success to lessons learned on the field.
But ultimately, it’s about opportunity: the opportunity to work together for a common goal; the opportunity to display courage under fire; and last but certainly not least, the opportunity to lead on your team, in your community, or even your country.
And girls like Meghan Vogel are showing that the future is bright.