How many women are on your staff? According to a 2008Aquatics International Salary Survey, male and female head lifeguards and supervisors are nearly equal in number. Perhaps one factor that has influenced these statistics is Title IX. This federal legislation was originally passed in 1972 to promote equity in education, and it?s had some far-reaching affects. Specifically, it stipulates that, ?No person ... shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.?
The result? ?[Title IX] has changed the entire way we educate children ? it goes way beyond the gym, [classroom or pool,]? says Dr. Ellen Staurowsky, professor and graduate chairwoman, Department of Sport Management and Media, Ithaca College.
Athletics is one of many types of programs covered under Title IX, and it could be argued that the legislation?s impact on athletics has come to symbolize what it?s all about. Title IX has fundamentally changed the way women athletes are viewed. ?Female athletes are so much a part of our culture [now],? Staurowsky adds. ?They?re no longer those girls who were on the margins who periodically became famous for their sport.?
Today, there are over 1,000 times more female athletes competing at the college level than in 1968 (before Title IX), according to research. Data from the National Federation of High School Student Associations shows fewer than 300,000 female high school varsity athletes prior to Title IX. During the 2006-2007 academic year, there were more than 3 million.
Are more females participating in aquatics? Yes. During the 1973-1974 academic year, there were 4,062 boys? swimming/diving teams and 2,785 girls? teams, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. That?s compared with 6,358 boys? teams and 6,708 girls? teams offered in 2006-2007. Growth has occurred at the college level as well.
As with most legislation, Title IX is not without its detractors. The issue is compliance. The law requires that men and women have access to equitable opportunities for sports participation, training, and equipment, and scholarship funding proportional to their participation.
It does not require budget or program cuts, and experts agree that how a particular institution chooses to comply is up to that individual school. But some have argued that men?s programs are being cut to add women?s programs, and some large football and basketball programs have lobbied for exemption, claiming they are top revenue earners and finance other sports.
?The intent of the law is that no matter which sex, you [want to provide them with] a positive sport experience,? says Pamela Noakes, executive director, the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport. ?The administration of the law is an entirely independent [decision].?
Still, several universities, including James Madison and Syracuse, have cut swimming and diving and blamed Title IX.
?Title IX has done a lot of good. It also has allowed a lot of athletic directors to cut Olympic programs under the pretense of having to do it to comply with the law,? says John Leonard, executive director of the American Swimming Coaches Association. ?The real issue is their own inability to discipline their spending to reasonable levels on the so-called revenue sports [such as football or basketball], which might better be entitled the net-loss sports [such as swimming]. Only six NCAA athletic programs are net revenue positive, according to Dr. Brand at the NCAA.?
Though in the past 20 years Title IX has paved the way for great strides in gender equity, experts agree there?s still a long way to go in terms of athletics. The ?I EXercise My Rights? public service Title IX educational campaign states that women?s sports still lag behind men?s in many areas.