Fifty years ago, Congress passed a landmark piece of legislation, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (PDF). Typically referred to simply as "Title IX," the law as amended (20 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq.) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions and programs receiving federal funding. Many people are familiar with Title IX's impact on sex equity in school sports; however, it applies to all activities at any educational institution—public and private, from pre-school through graduate school—receiving federal funding. Title IX also prohibits denial of admission to education programs and activities on the basis of blindness or visual impairment.
While several key members of Congress played a role in the passage of Title IX, Representative Patsy Takemoto Mink is recognized as the primary author and proponent of the legislation. In 2002, Title IX was officially renamed the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in honor of Representative Mink and her contributions to Title IX, civil rights, and economic and social justice (107 H.R.J.Res 113). The Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress holds the Patsy T. Mink Papers. For more information about the Patsy T. Mink Papers, please see the research guide First Woman of Color in Congress: A Resource Guide for the Patsy T. Mink Papers.
On June 19, 2002, Representative Mink reflected on Title IX and her personal connection to the cause:
"I want to say I have a very personal connection with title IX because while I was wanting to go to medical school in my time and I had written to a dozen or more medical schools to seek entry, each one of them turned me down by saying that they did not admit women to their schools. It came to me as quite a shock that in America it was not a person's grade, aptitude, tests, recommendations that got the person into the careers of their choice, but that it had to do with one's gender. So it appalled me. I did not know whether to resign myself to that situation or not. I had finished college. I did not have a place to go, had no real insights as to what I was going to do with the rest of my life.
"I got a job at an art academy as assistant director, and the director said to me, do not give up, there is something there you can go to. So this is how I came to title IX. I was determined that no other young woman in this country should ever have to endure the kinds of frustrations and injustice that I had to face while I was trying to find my place in this great democracy."