One of the great achievements of the women’s movement was the enactment of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. It’s hard to imagine that just 50 years ago, young women were not admitted into many colleges and universities, athletic scholarships were rarely awarded to women, and math and science was a realm reserved for men. There was no such thing as sexual harassment, and if a student got pregnant, her formal education ended.
Marginalized and trivialized, girls’ teams had to raise their own money through bake sales and car washes and make their own uniforms. And they often played in empty gymnasiums.
Those who defied the ridicule and institutional hurdles did so because they loved their sport and they were
born to compete: people like former WWU Athletic Director Lynda Goodrich, who in 1987 became one of the first female athletic directors for both men’s and women’s teams in the nation. But Lynda was simply continuing a legacy set by Western’s physical education and coaching trailblazers like Margaret Aitken, Chappelle Arnett and Evelyn Ames. These three women, whose careers together span six decades, were early believers in the value of athletics for women, and they fought hard against all kinds of systemic barriers.
We’ve come a long way, but much work remains. Since 1975, there have been 20 court challenges to Title IX in an attempt to whittle down greater equity in all fields of education—mirroring the ups and downs of the fight for equality at large. Yet as a result of Title IX, women have benefited from involvement in amateur and professional sports and, in turn, sports are more exciting with their participation. Just one of the many ways that greater equity benefits everyone.