An historical analysis of the impact of Title IX on student media presentation of women as athletes

Georgina Nancy Calia, Fordham University


Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions and seeks to establish equality in sport by providing male and female athletes with equivalent opportunities, benefits, and treatment. The question of this research study focuses on intercollegiate athletics and the impact of Title IX on the "equality of recognition" (Bryant, 1980, p.40) for women's sports and women as athletes as presented by the student print media. Media presentation can be an important tool of socialization in that it can convey and reinforce existing beliefs, attitudes, and images of women's sports and women as athletes. A major student newspaper in a northeastern University was selected for the study. A content analysis of a sample of 161 issues and 2552 pages published between 1971-1972 and 1991-1992 was conducted. The examination focused on the amount of print coverage provided for women's sports and the use of words and photographs in the description of women athletes. The research study indicates that Title IX has impacted the coverage provided to women in intercollegiate athletics. There is an increased awareness of women as athletes by the student press, although women still remain less photographed than their male colleagues, and men maintain their dominance. By the predominant placement of articles relating to men's sports on the back page of the newspaper, and in the photographic display and positioning of male athletes, the message of superiority and dominance associated with male sports, and the subordinate and inferior role of female athletes is conveyed and reinforced. In addition, although descriptors utilized by student reporters to describe female athletes are generally respectful and not blatantly sexist or stereotypically "feminine", nonetheless the descriptive phrases are not as powerful as those used to describe their male athletic colleagues. It was concluded that although Title IX has impacted on the amount of coverage afforded women's athletics in the presentation by student print media, the superiority and dominance attributed to male athletes, and the consequent inferiority and subordination of women athletes is still conveyed and reinforced.

Subject Area

Sociology|Social structure|Mass media|Recreation|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Calia, Georgina Nancy, "An historical analysis of the impact of Title IX on student media presentation of women as athletes" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9324608.