Marist Poll hosts Discussion on 50th Anniversary of Title IX
June 23, 2022 – This week, the nation marks the 50th Anniversary of the passage of Title IX, the landmark legislation which banned discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal funding in the United States. The impact of Title IX over five decades on women’s sports has been significant. The law opened doors and removed barriers for girls and women, but challenges remain.
To acknowledge this anniversary and the road ahead, Marist Poll, in collaboration with the Marist Center for Sports Communication hosted a virtual panel earlier this month to discuss the legacy of this groundbreaking legislation and what still needs to be done today.
A new Marist Poll, conducted in collaboration with the Center for Sports Communication, found that three in four Americans believe Title IX played a role in increasing the prominence of women’s sports in the last few decades. The poll also found that men (17%) are more likely than women (11%) to consider Title IX to be the primary catalyst for the growth of women’s sports.
The discussion, titled A Celebration of Women in Sports, was moderated by Stephanie Calvano, Marist Poll’s Director of Data Science and Technology. The panel featured Margaret Dunkle, an architect of Title IX, Aditi Kinkhabwala, former national reporter for the NFL Network, Rebecca Lobo, WNBA and women’s college basketball analyst and reporter for ESPN and former WNBA All-Star, Jane McManus, Executive Director of Seton Hall’s Center for Sports Media and Julianne Viani-Braen, a basketball analyst for ESPN, CBS Sports Network, the NBA, Big Ten Network , NBC Sports & YES Network.
During the eighty-five-minute discussion, Dunkle, one of the architects of Title IX in 1972, explained how the landmark legislation came to fruition. “When Title IX was passed there was almost no mention of athletics, but immediately after Title IX passed, it became clear that sports were going to be the tail that wagged the Title IX dog.” Women in athletics became one of the focal points for Title IX since it was visible, dramatic, and easily quantifiable.
Title IX provides women with opportunities that were once not available. “The point here is having the opportunity to chase whatever it is you want to chase, whether society says this is closed to girls or not,” said Kinkhabwala.
In the recent Marist Poll, when asked their impressions of Title IX, without description of the legislation, 66% of Americans, including 58% of sports fans, say they have either never heard of “Title IX” or are unsure how to rate it. Thus, proving there is still a long journey ahead in making this legislation more recognizable by name and the purpose it has.
The lack of awareness, however, does not come from their male peers who share the similar profession. “In my experience, the people who respected female athletes the most were the high school, college, professional male athletes,” said Lobo. “There is so much respect from NBA players to WNBA players, from male college athletes to female college athletes.”
When asked about advice these women would give to the younger generation, Dunkle reiterated the importance of continuing to bring awareness to Title IX and the equal opportunities it can provide, though there is still work to be done.