A 50 Year Fight: Title IX’s Impact


Mayfield Crier

“Through high school, college, and in pretty much any career, teamwork and collaboration is essential to reach the goals you are trying to achieve,” says Mayfield softball coach, Katie Clancy. Photo credit Mayfield Crier archives.

What does Title IX mean to you? If you’re a female student athlete it means everything. It means a fair chance at a sports scholarship. It means the work you put into an athletic activity can turn into a career. It means equality in a field that is looking for failure. But has Title IX really accomplished all that, or in 50 years has it faded from memory? 

Title IX, signed into law in 1974, prohibited sex discrimination in sports. In the 70s Title IX was ahead of its time and had a promising future for the equality of women. “I guess you could say that I was the second generation of beneficiaries of Title IX.” recalled Amber Gravely, a retired college athlete. Gravely witnessed the discrimination of girls in sports when watching her older sister play at a high level. “They had to bring in Gloria Allred (an american attorney),” Gravely said, “to change the school board to allow their games to be played in the evening like the boys, so their families and the community could be able to attend and support them.” 

Title IX was a revolutionary and promising idea. But after 50 years of the law in effect, female athletes remain overlooked and underrepresented. According to a 2014 study conducted by Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota, 40% of all sports participants are women, yet women’s sports receive only 4% of all sports media coverage. As a result, young women athletes struggle with turning athletics into a career because of the bias towards women in the sports media. 

“Women are continuing to fight to earn a comparable living wage to male professional athletes,” claims Gravely. Until 2022, the US Women’s Soccer team members,  winners of four Women’s World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals,were paid thousands of dollars less than the US men’s soccer team. This pay discrepancy persisted even while the women’s team consistently generated more revenue than U.S. men’s games according to 2019 audited financial statements from the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). It took a lawsuit before a deal to pay U.S. Men’s National Team and the U.S. Women’s National Team equally was struck mid 2022.

Our softball program was definitely squeezed on budget in comparison to our men’s sports programs,” recalled Katie Clancy, who participated in Division I college softball from 2012-2014. “It affected the hotels we had to stay in, how we traveled to play at different schools, the food we were able to eat on the road, and the equipment and necessities for our program.” 

Despite the inequities, Clancy says being involved in sports at any level is important. “Sports can build confidence and character and help you stay healthy and fit, but I think the most important thing I learned from sports, I guess mostly playing team sports my whole life, is teamwork,” said Clancy, “Through high school, college, and in pretty much any career, teamwork and collaboration is essential to reach the goals you are trying to achieve.” Clancy has continued to have sports in her life coaching high school softball and instilling in girls the importance of athletics and teamwork. 

In 2022, the Biden administration announced proposed rules, furthering the progress of Title IX. “The new proposed rules require schools to address any sex-based harassing conduct that inhibits a student’s ability to participate, which means schools can better keep students safe.” reported the National Education Association. 

“Over the last fifty years, our nation has made monumental progress in advancing equity and equality for all students, including by narrowing gender gaps in sports, expanding opportunities in science and technology fields, and protecting students from sex discrimination, including sex-based harassment and sexual violence,” President Joe Biden said in a White House statement.