One of the landmarks for ending discrimination based on sex in the U.S. education system came with the signing of Title IX in 1972. To showcase the impact of this important law during the past 50 years, the Indiana Historical Society (IHS) has opened its newest exhibit, Title IX: A Legacy of Access.
Open through July 31, 2021, in the Rosemary McKee Lanham Gallery on the fourth floor of the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, the exhibit explores what the world looked like before Title IX, the people who helped pass the legislation, including Indiana Senator Birch Bayh, how the law came into being, as well as how it has shaped schools and universities all over Indiana. The exhibit also dives into the impact Title IX has made to college athletics during the past 50 years.
“Imagine not being able to take a class in engineering because you are a girl. Imagine being told you have to use the teacher’s bathroom because of your gender identity. Imagine being told you’re fired because you’re pregnant. This was the world before Title IX,” said IHS Director of Exhibits Research Daniel Gonzales.
But Title IX has become even bigger over the years, protecting the rights of all students and staff regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, immigration status, race or ability.
The exhibit features several major topics surrounding Title IX, including:
Before Title IX
Before Title IX, there was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin with special provisions for the workplace, public accommodations, and federally-funded programs.
While this act did cover discrimination based on sex, it was not comprehensive, and women continued to face bias in the workplace. This was especially true in schools as this act did not provide protections for employees or students at educational institutions.
The People Behind Title IX
The initial draft of Title IX was co-authored by Congresswoman Patsy Mink and Senator Birch Bayh. Congresswoman Mink introduced it in the House, while Senator Bayh and Representative Edith Green introduced it to the Senate.
Title IX and Education
Prior to the passage of Title IX, both male and female students were educated based on typical gender stereotypes. Girls were placed in home economics courses and encouraged to pursue careers as secretaries or nurses, while boys were encouraged to focus on science and math or shop classes. Title IX attempted to level the educational playing field for males and females and provide equal opportunity as well as protection for both sexes.
Title IX and Athletics
It was not until the late 1800s that women really began taking part in competitive sports and forming athletic clubs. Prior to this, sport was participated in for recreation only. While there were some athletic activities available to women in the educational environment, they were primarily relegated to intramural competitions. It was not until the end of World War II that intercollegiate competition for women’s athletics began to spread. By the early 1970s, women finally had the opportunity to compete in national competitions.
The exhibit is included with admission to the Indiana Experience. Visit www.indianahistory.org for the most up-to-date admission prices. IHS members and children younger than 5 receive free admission.
For more information about this exhibit and other IHS offerings, call (317) 232-1882 or visit www.indianahistory.org.