But 50 years after the enactment of Chapter IX, a civil rights law that requires equal opportunities for men and women in federally funded institutions, much remains to be done at both the national and local levels.
Despite these hurdles and obstacles, a group of local high school athletes recently made history at a state wrestling tournament.
Related: Section IX: Explanation of the landmark civil rights law that codified gender equality in sport and beyond
The first-ever Illinois girls’ state wrestling tournament for girls in February in Homewood Flossmoor had eight qualifiers – six of them first wrestlers and six of them female.
“It was actually very important to me,” said sophomore Jocelyn Williams, “because I love women better than men, without resentment. I was just excited that we had the opportunity to get attention.”
“The fact that they took this level of thinking and planning only for girls to be able to fight,” said sophomore Ini Odumosu. “I was just shocked, surprised and happy that they really went so far for us.”
“It’s culture,” coach Scott Aranson said. “They treat each other positively, support each other. They feel each other’s pain, celebrate each other’s victories. It’s incredible. I’ve never been in it.”
Related: Title IX paves the way for the historic first victory in the Sterling High Girls Basketball Championship
Aronson acknowledges the growing popularity of wrestling among high school girls, but also sees the inequality that remains.
Analysis of the ABC7 data group shows that 50 years after Section IX everything is not 50/50. In Illinois alone, 50,000 high school boys play sports more than girls.
“There are a lot of such tournaments for girls, we don’t have braces yet,” Aranson said. “They don’t invest the same funding in girls as for boys … They didn’t keep a team number in our section, so there was no section winner, there was no team trophy. The boys get it.”
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This is a sign of where things stand. After 50 years of Title IX there is still a push to level the playing field.
“We still have a long way to go to gender equality in this country in many different areas, including sports,” said Depol women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno.
“But Chapter IX police aren’t running around the country to ensure that,” said Miss Isaacson High School basketball champion. “Trials are still going on, demands are still not being met. There is still a huge shortage of women administrators, sports directors. It’s not against Chapter IX, but it’s a reflection of things we still have to work on.”
“This notion of title IX based on sex will always be a struggle we have to fight,” said 1979 state high school basketball champion Amy Ashleman.
Check it out abc7chicago.com/fifty50 where you will find a growing collection of stories from our subsidiary stations and local veneration of women and girls in honor of the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the pursuit of gender equality. You can also learn more about the history of law.
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