KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Title IX of the Education Amendments brought many changes to sports, education and even career opportunities 50 years ago. The milestone law prohibits sex based discrimination at any educational institution that receives federal funding.

Title IX is most widely known when it comes to sports. It helped level out the playing field for women, providing more equity and inclusion.

“When Title IX was passed in 1972, there were less than 30,000 collegiate female identifying athletes across the country. Now there’s more than 200,000, so that alone is progress,” Melanie Tucker, the vice president & dean of students at Maryville College said.

Now as the piece of legislation marks it’s 50th anniversary, the sign of progress continues as it’s been a huge year for women in sports. Gaining more recognition nationwide, with a recent achievement including the 2022 NCAA women’s basketball tournament expanding and using March Madness branding for the first time.

All of these achievements are being celebrated as more women continue to enter the world of athletics.

“In the NCAA there’s about 44 percent of student athletes that identify as female,” Tucker said. “You think over the course of 50 years, we’ve gone from very few to almost half.

However, Title IX isn’t just about women competing. In fact, these 37 words gave women more in terms of education and career opportunities:

‘No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.’

“So we’ve seen in the 50 years it’s been in play that we’re now at a point in time where women earn post-secondary degrees at a higher rate than men. Both at the bachelor level and advanced degree levels,” Tucker said. “There’s still room to grow, but it brought equity into things like employment, healthcare and benefits,” she said.

That room for growth is worth reflecting on what Title IX has done and what it will continue to do in the future as the conversation on equity continues.