Skip Navigation
MarylandToday

Produced by the Office of Strategic Communications

Subscribe Now
Research

Promise of Title IX Remains Unfulfilled, UMD Student-Led Investigation Finds

High School Girls Sports Still Face Inequities

By Josh Land

High school girls soccer practice

A high school girls soccer team practices in York, Maine. A new investigation by UMD’s Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism found that Title IX has led to a significant increase in girls playing scholastic sports, but has fallen short of achieving equity in some areas.

Staff Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Title IX has led to a significant increase in girls playing scholastic sports, but has fallen short of achieving equity for them in areas such as facilities, equipment, scheduling and publicity, according a new investigation by The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland.

“Unlevel Playing Fields,” published online Monday by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s Capital News Service, is the result of a four-month, student-led effort preceding Title IX’s 50th anniversary in June. The landmark legislation prohibits sex-based discrimination at any school that receives funding from the federal government, including in sports programs.

“Our hope is that the Title IX investigation will change the conversation about gender equity in high school sports,” Povich Center Director Mark Hyman said. “There haven’t been many—or any—reporting projects on the subject that have gone as deep. Many Merrill College colleagues contributed to the effort. Mostly, this investigation reflects the outstanding work of our students.”

Students in Hyman’s “Title IX and Gender Equity” capstone course, those taking Abell Professor Sandy Banisky’s “Urban Affairs Reporting” course and others at the Howard Center produced 12 text stories, several video pieces and a national poll of high school parents and their student-athlete children to measure awareness of Title IX.

The project was done in collaboration with “PBS NewsHour,” which will air its Title IX segment during Monday’s newscast. The Associated Press, Just Women’s Sports and Word In Black will also publish parts of the project.

Among the student reporters’ other findings:

  • Title IX and high school athletics aren’t aggressively monitored by state or federal government officials. It’s mostly up to the 3.4 million girls playing high school sports in the U.S. and their parents to report violations.
  • Most parents, students and even school officials aren't well-informed about the law.
  • Title IX enforcement protocols are slow-moving. Girls who report Title IX violations often graduate before they see results.

“This was the most ambitious collaboration between the Povich Center and the Howard Center,’’ Howard Center Director Kathy Best said. “Sports is a rich vein to mine for investigations.’’

The Povich and Howard centers also intend to share their findings with a workshop for high schoolers to help educate about Title IX, how to recognize violations and how to report those inequities to effect change.

Topics:

Research

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Strategic Communications for the University of Maryland community weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.