On March 28, 2022, the Department of History, Political Science, and International Studies, the Office of the Chaplain, the Department of Athletics, and the Department of Exercise and Sports Science hosted a webinar celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX.
The panel consisted of Associate Professor of History Angela Robbins, Interim Dean and Professor of the School of Education, Health and Human Sciences Melinda Campbell, Jacquelyn Myers, Chaplain Stacy Pardue, and Intercollegiate Tennis Association hall-of-famer Alice Tym.
Robbins began the panel by explaining the history of Title IX. This federal civil rights law prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or other education program or activity receiving funding from the federal government. The panelists discussed the impact they had witnessed and felt in sports thanks to Title IX.
“It isn’t enough to just want equality. You have to force equality, and that’s what Title IX did,” said Tym.
Tym began playing tennis before Title IX came into effect. While she was in school, her team didn’t have a coach or uniforms. But Title IX did benefit her when she began coaching.
She started the tennis team at the University of Florida by herself and won three consecutive national titles. However, there was inequity in salaries between herself and the male coaches. Tym made 10% of what the male coaches were making. It wasn’t until she began coaching at Yale that the gap was closed because of another woman suing the school for pay inequality.
“I think the important thing to realize is that nothing happens unless there’s a law to enforce it. Because it didn’t matter until people had to do the right thing. What students should take away from this is that you need to make sure that you use the legal system to reinforce the right things,” said Tym.
For Myers, Title IX had little effect on her high school athletics career, but she did benefit from it during college. Myers received one of the first athletic scholarships for women at Elon, where she played volleyball, basketball, and softball. The three sports were only added to her high school a year after she graduated.
“It just saddens me to think how much better I could have been as a college athlete had I been able to participate in organized sports in high school,” said Myers.
Campbell’s experience echoed Myers’, except she was able to be on one of the first organized teams in her high school. However, the college Campbell attended did not have a women’s tennis team, so she tried out for and made the men’s team.
For Campbell, the opportunity to even play on a tennis team felt like equality, and she is thankful Title IX afforded that to her.
“Title IX created an infrastructure for women to pursue their passions and allowed us to seek empowerment as women. I think that is one of the strongest legacies that we can celebrate. It should be revered rather than tolerated and undervalued,” she said.
Because of Pardue’s accomplishments in tennis, she was accepted into Yale, where she joined the women’s tennis team, which Tym coached.
“It’s really striking to me that even as just the 10th class of women at Yale, I was standing on the shoulders of the nine classes that came before me,” said Purdue. “Really let that sink in because you all stand on the shoulders of several generations of women who fought the battles before you so that you have equal access to so many opportunities.”
All panelists stressed the importance of working hard so future generations will have better opportunities than the one before.
“What I would like to say to the students is that there’s always a time of change. And the question is, are you going to be the ones to make that change?” asked Tym.