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Northwestern commemorates the 50th anniversary of Title IX

Today — June 23, 2022 — marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a landmark piece of legislation for gender equity in our country. Over the five decades since that day, Northwestern has been vigilant in addressing gender discrimination and advancing progress toward a more equitable world.

As we reflect on this progress, and the substantial work still to be done, a direct line can be drawn between Northwestern’s commitment and a historic year of success for our women’s teams. Competitively these achievements were highlighted by field hockey claiming its first NCAA championship, softball competing on the biggest stage in the Women’s College World Series, and lacrosse advancing to its 13th national semifinal. In the classroom, our female Wildcats collectively posted a 3.466 cumulative grade point average and nearly 75% of them earned Academic All-Big Ten distinction during the 2021-22 academic year. The foundation of excellence that we stand on, and continue to build, is due in large part to the passage of Title IX and decades of Wildcats pioneers who showcased what is possible for today’s student-athletes.

To commemorate and celebrate the achievements of Northwestern’s female student-athletes, coaches, staff and alumnae over the last half-century, our department will lead and take part in a series of events and programs throughout the 2022-23 academic year.

The University’s hallmark event, Title IX at 50: Past. Present. Future?, will take place on campus from Thursday, October 27 through Saturday, October 29. This campus-wide event will feature renowned guests including keynote speaker Mary Carrillo and panelists Anucha Browne, Donna Lopiano, Amy Wilson, and our very own Janna Blais. These individuals and other accomplished women will bring their knowledge and experience into a vibrant dialogue acknowledging history, celebrating progress and advancing the work that lies ahead.

Further, you will notice elements of Title IX incorporated into various programming throughout the year including National Girls and Women in Sports Day, Women’s History Month and Together We Win. We also are excited to launch a video series that will amplify the stories of Northwestern trailblazers who paved the way for today’s student-athletes. To learn more about upcoming programs please visit our dedicated landing page as it will be updated throughout the year. We’re excited to have you be the first to see some of the highlights from the powerful interviews conducted with pioneering Wildcats. Northwestern Magazine also spoke with six alums about how Title IX and the student-athlete experience in Evanston shaped their lives.

Our Champions for Wildcat Women initiative will be a focal point throughout the year to further its mission of increasing fundraising support for our women’s varsity programs, empowering our female student-athletes, and celebrating the incredible advocates of women’s athletics within the Northwestern family. A new fund, specifically supporting our 11 women’s varsity programs, has been established as a result of a generous gift from Wendy Nelson '91, '99 MBA, a former Northwestern tennis student-athlete and current University trustee, which will accelerate the momentum for investment in Wildcats women's sports.

While opportunities for women in sports have expanded vastly during the Title IX era, it’s important to recognize that inequities still persist. My hope is this year-long commemoration will not only celebrate the incredible achievements of women at Northwestern, but also shed light on the challenges that lie ahead and the work that remains. I am proud to work at a university that has prioritized the representation, inclusion, and engagement of women, and remains dedicated to advancing progress.