1964

The Civil Rights Act includes sex as one of the things that employers can’t discriminate against. It also establishes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  

1971

The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) is founded to govern collegiate women’s athletics and administer national championships. 

1972

Raised in West Seattle, Patricia Bostrom won a Pac-8 title and a national mixed college doubles title at the University of Washington. She sued the university, demanding a women’s program equal to the men’s and the right to try out for the men’s team in the meantime.  

“..I have to hand it to the University of Washington, because two weeks (after a pre-trial hearing), the University contacted us and said, ‘You were right, we were wrong and the women’s program is horribly underfunded,’” Bostrom told the Seattle Times in 2019. 

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Fifty years ago, Title IX was passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. Here are some of the key dates since then.

1972

Congress passes Title IX, which is signed into law by President Richard Nixon. Title IX states: “No person in the United States 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.” Congress also passes the Equal Rights Amendment, but it never gets approval from the 38 states needed to become law. 

1974

The Women’s Educational Equity Act provides grants and contracts to help with “nonsexist curricula,” as well as to help institutions meet Title IX requirements. 

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1975

President Gerald Ford signs Title IX athletics regulations, which gives athletic departments up to three years to implement, after noting “it was the intent of Congress under any reason of interpretation to include athletics.” 

1976

NCAA challenges the legality of Title IX regarding athletics in a lawsuit that is dismissed two years later. 

1977

Three female students at Yale, two graduates and a male faculty member become the first to sue over sexual harassment under Title IX (Alexander v. Yale). It would fail on appeal. 

1978-82

One of the first stars of the Seattle University women’s basketball program, Sue Stimac, became the first female basketball player to earn All-America honors.  

1978

Jeanne Eggart is the first female recipient of an athletic scholarship from Washington State. She became WSU’s all-time leading women’s basketball scorer with a four-year total of 1,967 points, a record that stood for 38 seasons.

1979

More than 40 athletes and coaches sign on to a lawsuit against the university, but Karen Blair was the named plaintiff in the landmark Blair v. Washington State University lawsuit.

“The comprehensive findings of fact of the trial court demonstrate that, despite marked improvements since the early 1970’s, the women’s athletic programs have continued to receive inferior treatment in funding, fundraising efforts, publicity and promotions, scholarships, facilities, equipment, coaching, uniforms, practice clothing, awards, and administrative staff and support,” the Washington Supreme Court decision read.

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1979

U.S. officials put into effect the important three-prong test for Title IX compliance when it comes to athletics. 

1980

Title IX oversight is given to the Office of Civil Rights in the Education Department. 

1982

Louisiana Tech beats Cheyney State for the first NCAA women’s basketball title. Two months later, the AIAW folds, putting top women’s collegiate sports fully under the NCAA umbrella. 

1988

Congress overrides President Ronald Reagan’s veto of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, making it mandatory that Title IX apply to any school that receives federal money. 

1994

The Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act is passed. Under Title IX, schools with federal financial aid programs and athletics must provide annual information regarding gender equity, including roster sizes and certain budgets. 

1996

Female athletes win a lawsuit and force Brown to restore funding for women’s gymnastics and volleyball after the saying the school violated Title IX when it turned both teams into donor-funded entities.  

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2016

Citing Title IX, the Obama administration says transgender students at public schools should be allowed to use the bathroom or locker room that matches their gender identity. The guidance was rescinded by the Trump administration. 

2017

A Seattle Times investigation found dozens of women who appear to have not been on the women’s rowing team but whom the UW counted as crew participants in reports to federal officials. The discrepancies raised questions of whether UW athletic officials artificially inflated the women’s crew roster to meet Title IX requirements and maintain federal funding. 

A new policy resulted, stating only women who have competed in a contest, or who have had skill instructions from a coach and physical activity in a boat or on a rowing machine for a four-week period, would count.

2020

On May 19, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Final Rule under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. 

“For the first time, the Department’s Title IX regulations recognize that sexual harassment, including sexual assault, is unlawful sex discrimination,” it reads.

2021

Report rips NCAA for failing to uphold its commitment to gender equity by prioritizing its lucrative Division I men’s basketball tournament “over everything else,” including women’s championship events. 

The Associated Press contributed to this timeline.

Title IX at 50 years