maryland today | The Godmother of Title IX

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Collage of Title IX Stock Footage

Above: Women protest Title IX enforcement; center: Sandler, center, with US Senator Birch Bayh (D-Indiana), right, co-author of Title IX; bottom: President Richard Nixon in 1969 with members of the Citizens’ Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

Walk across a college campus in the US today and it’s easy to see that the gender balance has shifted. Since the late 1970s, female students have outnumbered men, accounting for approximately 57% of the university population as of 2019, the Reports from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Now free to pursue all majors, women at UMD make up a third of university students studying engineering and almost half of all students in the Faculty of Computer Science, Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

“Life chances depend on education. If we discriminate against women in K-12 or higher education, we are setting the stage for lifelong disparities,” said UMD Provost and Senior Vice President Jennifer King Rice, who served as dean of the College of Education for decades. after Sandler failed to get hired there.

For many, Title IX remains synonymous with women’s sports, where the opportunities have grown exponentially. Girls’ participation in high school sports is 10 times higher than it was in 1972, according to the NCES. In college, he The NCAA reports that women now make up nearly half of all Division I athletes. And while it’s still more common for men to coach women’s teams, women are beginning to make inroads into men’s sports, like WNBA star Kristi Toliver ’09 , assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks.

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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, prior to the passage of Title IX, and the team competed in the first nationally televised women’s game, in 1975.

Today, UMD is a national powerhouse in women’s sports. 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 most recently winning the NCAA championship in 2019.

Field hockey’s Missy Meharg MA ’90, the college’s winningest coach, remembers being barred from playing ice hockey as a child in the 1970s. But today, her student-athletes have gone on to play professionally and represent to their countries in the Olympic Games; become doctors and businessmen; and create clubs and camps for the new generations of girls.

“We are now embarking on a new team home and stadium for [lacrosse] Coach [Cathy] Me and Reese,” Meharg said. “Maryland isn’t just running 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 within sex discrimination, requiring schools to address complaints and add protections for whistleblowers who expose the discrimination based on gender. The law now also includes guarantees for pregnant and parenting students to make up homework while attending doctor’s appointments, for example.

“Title IX is a powerful tool,” said Neena Chaudhry ’93, general counsel for the National Women’s Law Center, who worked on several of these Supreme Court cases. “We need to continue to raise awareness so that if people realize that something is not fair, we can use the law to help them.”

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