June 23 marked the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the federal law that prevents discrimination against women in any education program that receives federal funding.

Although we commonly associate Title IX with women and sports, the law covers a range of issues, including equal pay for women in the academy and gender-based quotas.

Although the impact of Title IX is clear, black women and girls have not benefited in the ways that white women have.

“According to a 2007 report by the United States Department of Education, among high school sophomores, white girls had a 51 percent participation rate in sports, compared with 40 percent for black girls. The percentages were lower for Asian/Pacific Islanders (34 percent) and Hispanics (32 percent).


The lack of access to sports at youth levels becomes manifest at the intercollegiate level, where African-American women are underrepresented in all but two sports: Division I basketball, where black women represent 50.6 percent of athletes, and indoor and outdoor track and field, where they represent 28.2 and 27.5 percent. They are all but missing in lacrosse (2.2 percent), swimming (2.0), soccer (5.3) and softball (8.2). They are an underrepresented rising presence in volleyball (11.6).


An unexpected consequence of Title IX is that since the legislation was passed in 1972, the percentage of female head coaches has decreased and the percentage of men coaching women’s teams has increased, especially in basketball and soccer. According to studies by Linda Jean Carpenter and R. Vivian Acosta, the percentage of women coaching women’s teams at the intercollegiate level fell to 44 percent in 2010 from 90 percent in 1972. But even here, African-American women have lost ground.”

Read more at The New York Times.

There is considerable work to do. The fact that black women and girls have been impacted less by Title IX stems from larger societal systems of inequality.


What can be done so that more black women and girls can feel the impact of Title IX?

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