Remember that School House Rock cartoon about how a bill becomes a law. Today’s selection is the book version of that cartoon focused on a particular law, Title IX.
Way back in the 1970s, options for women were kind of slim. There were certain professions, like teacher, nurse, and librarian, that were considered to be “women’s jobs.” These were the things that women could study in college. Other areas of study, like medicine and law, were seen as the domain of men and although a few women did slip through the cracks, in many places women were actively kept out of these schools and professions.
And don’t even get started on sports. Sports teams and facilities for women were underfunded if they even existed at all.
Then along come a law called Title IX that said, “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.” So, if you’re gonna fund boys’ basketball, you gotta fund girls’ basketball too. If you’re gonna let boys’ be lawyers, you gotta let girls be lawyers too.
Let Me Play by Karen Blumenthal (who also wrote a biography of Steve Jobs) is the history of how an idea for equal access for girls and women became a law called Title IX. It didn’t happen overnight. There were a lot of people who thought it was a bad idea and a waste of money. But it finally passed and it still plays an important role today in access to opportunities for everyone.
If you’d like a really interesting perspective on women’s sports on the college level, you might want to look into the “Mighty Macs” – Immaculata’s basketball team from the 1970s (back when Immaculata was an all women’s college). They were a powerhouse basketball team, winning a number of consecutive titles. In January, 1975, their game against Maryland was the first nationally televised women’s basketball game. They played in the first women’s game hosted in Madison Square Garden. They’ve been featured on ESPN’s Sports Center and have been the subject of a feature film. And Danielle just received an acceptance to join the Immaculata class of 2020.