High schools across the country are not providing girls with their fair share of spots on sports teams, according to data compiled by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), likely in violation of Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funds and has led, over the past 42 years, to significant increases in opportunities for girls in an array of academic and athletic programs in schools nationwide. Despite the successes, there remain gaps in compliance, which led to the NWLC review. While there is no set gap that constitutes a violation of Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education, gaps of 10 percentage points or more indicate that schools are likely not complying with the law, according to NWLC. The Center ranked states based on the percentage of their high schools that have large gender equity gaps in sports, and in some states more than 50 percent of high schools have such disparities.
Connecticut has the 11st smallest percentage of high schools with a large gender equity gap, 13 percent of high schools, which is well below the national average. In the top-ranked state, Vermont, only 1.9 percent of high schools have a large gender equity gap, followed by Hawaii at 4.7 percent. On the other side of the spectrum, in Georgia just over 66 percent of high schools – two-thirds of the state’s high schools – have a large gender equity gap.
Nationally, of the more than 16,000 high schools examined, nearly 4,500 schools — 28 percent — have large gender equity gaps. In addition to George, states found to have more than 50% of co-ed public high schools with gender equity gaps of 10 percentage points or more include South Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and the District of Columbia.
According to the NWLC, one way that a school can demonstrate compliance with Title IX is to show that the percentage of spots on teams allocated to girls is roughly equal to the percentage of students who are girls. The term “large gender equity gap” refers to a gap between the percentage of spots on teams allocated to girls and the percentage of students who are girls that is 10 percentage points or higher.