37 Words That Changed Women’s Lives Forever

On June 23, 1972, President Richard M. Nixon signed into law a measure that forbids discrimination in educational activities, eventually including sports, on the basis of gender. Over the next 40 years, Title IX went on to fundamentally alter the playing fields of America—and to open up a world of opportunities, even for women who have never picked up a lacrosse stick. Here, the numbers, studies and firsthand accounts that reveal how Title IX sparked a revolution that touched all of us 

by MORE
37 words changed women's lives image
Photograph: Illustrated by Brian Rea

The Ripple Effect
Title IX affected the country in many ways that were never anticipated. For instance, post–Title IX studies have shown that pursuing athletic endeavors during the school years raises self-esteem, increases life satisfaction, fights depression and enhances feelings of confidence and competence. What’s more, female athletes are more likely than nonathletes to avoid drugs, abstain from smoking and graduate from college. They also wait longer to have sex.

Benefits continue well after female players receive their diplomas. As adults, they tend to have healthier hearts, stronger immune systems, more resilient bones, less obesity, a lower risk for breast and other cancers and less chance of becoming diabetic than women who sat on the sidelines as teens. Ten years after college, they are also less likely to be depressed. Let’s hear it for the law of unintended ¬consequences! —M.D.

Illustrations: Quickhoney. Statistics sources: U.S. Department of Education 2011 Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act

Next: Top 25 Moments in Women's Sports

Related: Three Women Who Are Changing the Face of the Olympics

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First published in the June 2012 issue

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