Above: women demonstrate for the application of Title IX; center: Sandler, middle, with U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Indiana), right, who co-wrote Title IX; Bottom: President Richard Nixon in 1969 with members of the Citizens’ Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
Step into a college campus in the United States today and it’s easy to see that the gender balance has shifted. Since the late 1970s, female students have outnumbered males, accounting for around 57% of the university population in 2019, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports. Now free to pursue any major, women at UMD make up one-third of undergraduate engineering students and nearly half of all students in the College of Computing, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences.
“Life chances depend on education. If we discriminate against women in K-12 or higher education, we are laying the foundation for lifelong disparities,” said UMD Provost and Senior Vice President Jennifer King Rice, who served as Dean of the College of Education. decades after Sandler couldn’t get hired there.
For many, Title IX remains synonymous with women’s sports, where opportunities have grown exponentially. Girls’ participation in high school sports is 10 times higher than in 1972, according to NCES. In college, the The NCAA reports that women now represent nearly half of all Division I athletes. WNBA star Kristi Toliver ’09, Dallas Mavericks assistant coach.
Toliver is the latest in a long line of female Terps breaking gender barriers. The university established a women’s varsity basketball team in 1971, before Title IX passed, and the team played in the first nationally televised women’s game in 1975.
Today, the UMD is a national powerhouse in women’s sport. The basketball team won the NCAA Tournament in 2006 and is consistently ranked in the top 20, and the lacrosse and field hockey teams have a combined 21 national titles, with women’s lacrosse recently winning the championship NCAA in 2019.
Missy Meharg MA ’90 of field hockey, the university’s most successful coach, remembers not being allowed to play ice hockey when she was growing up in the 1970s. But today, her student-athletes went on to play professionally and represent their country at the Olympics; become doctors and entrepreneurs; and create clubs and camps for new generations of girls.
“Now we are embarking on a new team home and a new stadium for [lacrosse] Coach [Cathy] Reese and I,” Meharg said. “Maryland isn’t just hitting the numbers in women’s sports — we’re thriving and leading every day.”
Nationwide, numerous lawsuits over the years have also expanded Title IX to include sexual harassment or assault in sex discrimination, requiring schools to process complaints and adding protections for whistleblowers who expose sexual abuse. discrimination based on sex. The law now also includes safeguards for pregnant and parenting students so they can catch up on homework while attending doctor’s appointments, for example.
“Title IX is a powerful tool,” said Neena Chaudhry ’93, general counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, who has worked on many of these Supreme Court cases. “We have to keep raising awareness, so if people realize something is not right, we can use the law to help them.”