Title IX 50 Years Later
Meet Morgan Nguyen, a member of Girls Inc. of Orange County and a National Teen Advocacy Council Member. She is a current senior at La Quinta High School in California and is also dual-enrolled at Coastline Community College in its cybersecurity program. Morgan has been involved in Girls Inc. since she was 13 years old and participates in her school’s Robotics Club, Math Club, and Mock Trial – all of which have seen an increased amount of membership, particularly from girls, since the series of expansions that she led. By highlighting the history of Title IX and its importance, Morgan has been able to attract new girls to the programs, allowing them to discover and pursue their passions freely and without inhibition.
Fifty years ago, Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972’s original objective was to prohibit sex discrimination in all federally-funded educational institutions. The decision resulted in a substantial expansion in women’s access to education. Today, many girls and young women have lived their entire lives in a post-Title IX world of opportunities – a huge difference from women just 30 or 40 years their senior. Because these afforded rights and opportunities now seem commonplace, many girls, including myself, are uninformed about Title IX, its impact, and historical significance. Even as a long-time participant in Girls Inc., who has supported this legislation since its inception, I didn’t realize how different my life would have been if Title IX hadn’t been passed – until I did my own research.
In fact, when surveying my peers, one out of three said they knew next to nothing about the law. Of the students that knew, they only did so because of their involvement in athletics as opposed to the expansion of educational opportunities as a whole. Personally, I don’t believe it’s because they don’t want to learn about the topic; rather, I believe it’s because it isn’t highlighted as much as it should be, and they don’t have the lived experience to fully appreciate the progress that has been made. This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but it is something that should be addressed to guarantee that all girls in the United States realize the significance of Title IX.
As a girl who plans to double-major in Political Science and Computer Information Systems this Fall, I don’t believe that I would have been able to experience any STEM-related opportunities without Title IX. I might not have identified my passion or been able to, so boldly, declare my intentions of studying the field to my peers without any concerns of discrimination or prejudice. As President of Robotics Club and Vice President of Math Club, I am surprised that Title IX hasn’t been brought to my attention before. Title IX has opened multiple possibilities for girls in the STEM industry, especially considering, before Title IX, girls were denied participation. While Title IX ensures that girls have access to opportunities, our presence is still unequal: my Robotics Club has a 2 to 5 girl to boy ratio, and the Math Club has a 2 to 3 ratio. These low ratios are not because girls are not interested as it’s been noted that girls’ interest and achievement in STEM has reached an all-time high, so why is this disparity still present?
Despite the fact that Title IX has given the next generation of female leaders more courage in pursuing their passions without fear of judgment, more needs to be done to put systems into place that allow them to succeed. As more girls enroll in STEM programs and become involved with the equitable opportunities provided by Title IX, it makes one wonder whether the legacy of the act can be sustained if girls and young women are not familiar with Title IX, the rights they have, or how things were before the law was passed. While it’s important that we recognize, appreciate, and celebrate the great progress Title IX has made over the last 50 years, we must also acknowledge and address the challenges that remain on the road to achieving gender equality.