How Title IX and Proportionality Population Concepts Have Equalized Collegiate Women's Sports Programs with Men's Sports and Allows Spillover Gains for Women in the Workplace

By Compton, Nina H.; Compton, J. Douglas | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

How Title IX and Proportionality Population Concepts Have Equalized Collegiate Women's Sports Programs with Men's Sports and Allows Spillover Gains for Women in the Workplace


Compton, Nina H., Compton, J. Douglas, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Introduction

Universities and colleges across the country debate every year what should happen with men's and women's athletic teams at their institutions of higher learning. The decisions are different in college than they are for high school interscholastic programs because the colleges actually produce revenue from certain sporting events. Particularly, football and basketball are large ticket items for men's programs, but, more recently, women's basketball and volleyball have actually produced revenue for the college.

Title IX is an Act created in 1972 under the Education Amendments which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded programs. When intercollegiate athletics is involved, the office of civil rights (OCR) has interpreted Title IX to require schools to provide their male and female students with varsity athletic opportunities in proportion to their numbers in the undergraduate population. This requirement is known as proportionality. Proportionality has become the gold standard for whether a college's varsity athletic offerings comply with Title IX's equal opportunity mandate. The proportionality requirement, however, has received much criticism and scholars have attacked sex-based proportionality for slots on college teams as inconsistent with Title IX's non-discrimination mandate, because the rule gives female students a competitive advantage. (1)

Much criticism is made of the proportionality requirement imprinted in Title IX, because it interferes with Title VIPs mandate of equal protection between classes. In this instance, it is the class of boys and girls or males and females. This paper examines proportionality concerns for men and women student athletes. Women's sports at the college level are put in the model of careers-open-to-talents, where men and women compete for jobs that are awarded based on relevant talents and abilities. Proportionality is simply a one-man (person), one vote principle that guarantees female students proportional varsity athletic positions even when they have lower levels of athletic interest and ability than do male students. (2) The issue is whether Title IX funding in intercollegiate athletic programs should be based on proportionality or varsity athletics qualifiers looking at the percentage of students in the qualified applicant pool. (3)

Equal Protection and Gender Equity Under Title IX

Clearly, Title IX conflicts with the equal protection clause as is shown in Cohen v. Brown University, 123 Educ. L. Rep. 1013, 1025 (1998), which addressed whether the proportionality requirement violates the equal protection clause, because it does not distribute rewards based on individual interest and ability.

Initially, it is important to examine the concept of Gender Equity as it applies to educational athletics programs. (4) The issue of gender equity is addressed in most aspects of society. It is especially important in sports. Equality is the quality or state of being equal. (5) This should be consistent for males and females in sports. Gender is a property of certain words whereby they indicate the sex or lack of sex, which they represent. (6) Gender equity ensures the equality for both sexes. The equal rights amendment required public schools to permit girls to participate with boys in all interscholastic sports, but many cases challenged this idea. (7)

The primary reason more girls and women participate in sport today is that there are more opportunities than ever before. Girls and women still do not receive an equal share of sport resources in most organizational communities. Although female participation is not up to par, government regulations have mandated females be represented in more and more organizations. Congress contributed to the fairness in sports by passing Title IX in the Education Reform Act of 1972. (8) This title expressed that 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 educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. …

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