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That young women today find it difficult to imagine a world with barriers to education and other gender inequalities speaks to the impact Title IX has made over the last four decades.
Up until 1970, it was not uncommon for women applicants to be routinely denied access to sports clubs and university programs. ASU's late economist and Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom, considered a pioneer in her field, said she had been steered away from her high school math courses and later dissuaded from studying political science in college. At the time, the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields were thought to be the exclusive domains of men.
"There was a time (in the not so distant past) when it was not common for women in the U.S. to gain admission to undergraduate programs in physics – in fact, they were actually discouraged from even applying," says Tirupalavanam Ganesh, assistant professor of engineering education in ASU's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. "The social structures that Title IX helped create have been essential to simply give women access to science and engineering degrees."
However, Ganesh says, there is more work to be done, particularly in the STEM fields.
Nov. 5-11 – Title IX Week at ASU:
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Monday, Nov. 5: Charli Turner Thorne's live interview on Twitter – 10-10:30 a.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 7: Title IX panel event at Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa – 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 11: Sun Devil women's basketball opens season in Wells Fargo Arena; honors "Title IX 40" – 2 p.m.
While some argue Title IX has not done enough in the equality realm – equal pay is still an issue – there is great evidence of progress. More women than ever before are receiving advanced education degrees – many of them in fields from which they were once denied access, such as law – and women now make up half the workforce.
Last summer in London – in what some have dubbed the "Title IX Olympics" – more U.S. women brought home gold medals than U.S. men. This Olympics feat could not have been possible 40 years ago when there was little support for women athletes and women's athletic programs.
Not the case today, say Christina Wombacher, director of basketball operations at ASU, and graduate assistant Wendy Woudenberg, who are coordinating the ASU women's basketball Title IX event, Sunday, Nov. 11, when the Sun Devils open the season against Texas Tech at 2 p.m., in Wells Fargo Arena.
In honor of 40 years of women's advancement in education and sports, Arizona State University and Sun Devil Athletics will honor 40 extraordinary individuals at halftime of the season-opening basketball game.
Some of the honorees include Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court; sportscaster Brad Cesmat; Lin Larsen, who was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008; Mary Littlewood, considered the founder of ASU women's sports; and Don Petranovich, who led the Winslow High School girls basketball team to eight State Championships and finished his career as the winningest coach in Arizona high school basketball history.
A post-game panel will discuss the impact and opportunities of Title IX.
ASU women's basketball head coach Charli Turner Thorne will speak on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the Title IX: Inspiring Opportunity event, co-sponsored by the ASU Alumni Association, the Sun Devil Club and the Women & Philanthropy group of the ASU Foundation for a New American University. The event is scheduled to take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa.
Turner Thorne also will be available for a live ASU Tweetup from 10 to 10:30 a.m., on Monday, Nov. 5, to answer questions about Title IX and the upcoming basketball season. Hashtag for the live Twitter interview is #ASUTweetup and #ASUWBBTitleIX.
Coverage of the 40th anniversary will continue all week, as ASU professors, legal scholars, coaches, student-athletes and faculty and staff discuss how the United States' social landscape has changed in the years since Indiana Senator Birch Bayh introduced the Title IX constitutional appendage that was signed into law by President Nixon as part of the education amendments of 1972.
Also up for discussion: ways we can build on the Title IX legacy of gender equality.