Title IX’s 50th anniversary: a milestone for equality

Posted on Jun 27, 2022 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
First Lady Dawn Amano Ige (center), legislators and other women leaders joined the governor in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX and paying tribute to its major author, Patsy Mink.

First Lady Dawn Amano Ige (center), legislators and other women leaders joined the governor in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX and paying tribute to its major author, Patsy Mink.

The 50th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark federal civil rights law in education co-authored by former Hawai‘i Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink, was celebrated June 23 near her statue at the Hawai‘i State Library. The event, coordinated by UH and local women’s organizations, was attended by Governor Ige, First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige, Supreme Court Justice Sabrina McKenna, state legislators and others.

“As an educator, I know how this law transformed our schools and universities by prohibiting educational institutions from receiving any federal funding if they discriminated on the basis of gender in admissions, recruitment, financial aid, housing, and athletics,” said Mrs. Ige. She acknowledged the many women leaders and “changemakers” in the audience and went on to cite the progress made since Title IX was signed into law. According to the American Association of University Women:

  • Women now make up over 56% of America’s college students.
  • Women hold nearly half (48%) of tenure-track positions.
  • Since the passing of Title IX, the number of female athletes climbed more than 10 times: female athletes now make up 42% of all high school athletes.
  • In 1972, only 700 girls played soccer on high school teams. In 2018, there were 390,000.

Justice McKenna, who attended UH Mānoa on a basketball scholarship and went on to graduate from the William S. Richardson School of Law, was one of the earliest beneficiaries of Title IX. “Patsy Mink changed my life,” she said.

The story of how Mink came to write Title IX is part of the continuing saga in women’s fight for equality. “No one would hire her. So she wrote Title IX and changed history for millions of women,” according to an article in “The 74.” It describes Mink’s career as the first woman of color to be elected to Congress and the co-author of the 1972 groundbreaking federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Mink had applied to a dozen medical schools but was denied admission because she was a woman. So she earned a law degree but still couldn’t get a job because she was a working mother.

“I didn’t start off wanting to be in politics,” Mink once told a reporter. “Not being able to get a job from anybody changed things.” Title IX has led to millions of girls and women participating in high school and college sports, earning scholarships and enrolling in medicine, law and other fields. In awarding the 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to Mink, President Barack Obama praised her dedication to equality, saying, “Patsy was a passionate advocate for realizing the full promise of the American Dream.”

Read more in the July Capitol Connection newsletter.

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