‘Unlevel Playing Fields’ for Girls’ Sports

As Title IX turns 50, a new investigation finds the federal law is failing to protect girls’ access to sports, and many parents and students don’t know the rights afforded by the landmark equity law.

(EWA Radio Episode 293)

Photo credit: Molly Castle Work


Title IX prohibits gender-based discrimination in school programs that receive federal funding – but how fairly is the law being applied, especially when it comes to girls’ high school sports? A reporting team of nearly two dozen student journalists at the University of Maryland, College Park, set out to answer that question in a wide-ranging project.

Kara Newhouse, a longtime education reporter who is completing a master’s degree in data journalism, spent seven months analyzing the federal Title IX data. She found it fails to account for female students who play on co-ed teams, an omission that surprised many legal experts.

How are these data errors making their way into the larger narrative around girls’ sports, specifically the perception of greater gender equity? Where are the bright spots of girls and families advocating successfully for improvements? And what are compelling stories ideas for local reporters looking to use the Title IX anniversary as a springboard for compelling coverage?

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