Women and Sports

What Is Title IX?

In 1972 Congress passed the Educational Amendments. One section of this law, Title IX, prohibits discrimination against girls and women in federally-funded education, including in athletics programs. Mia Hamm

As a result of Title IX, women and girls have benefited from more participation opportunities and more equitable facilities. Women who were under 10 when Title IX passed have much higher sports participation rates than women who grew up before Title IX.


What Sports Do For Women

Regular exercise...

Rebecca LoboWomen and girls who participate in sports...




Many studies have shown the importance of exercise in increasing cardiovascular endurance and strength, and decreasing the chances of heart attacks, strokes, back problems, osteoporosis, and other health problems.

A recent study shows that women who exercise regularly from menarche throughout their childbearing years can significantly reduce their risk of Runnercontracting premenopausal breast cancer. Women who exercised at least 4 hours/week reduced their risk by over 50%, and women who exercised 1-3 hours/week reduced their risk by 30%.

These findings are similar to a 1981 study conducted at Harvard's Graduate School of Public Health, under Dr. Rose Frisch, which showed that young women who participated in college sports, or who exercised regularly in college, were significantly less likely to contract breast cancer and other reproductive cancers. 


Academic and Leadership Benefits of Sports

Participating in sports also has been found to increase young women's (and young Softballmen's) self-esteem. Sports also confers academic benefits. High school girls (and boys) who participate in sports have higher grades than non-athletes. In addition, a larger percentage of athletes scored in the top quartile on a standardized test. The positive effects of sports on grades were especially pronounced for Hispanic girls: 20% of Hispanic girl athletes reported receiving high grades compared to 9% of non-athletes, and 39% scored in the top quartile of a standardized test, compared to 23% of non-athletes.

Furthermore, high school athletes are more likely than non-athletes to aspire to be leaders in their communities as adults. If girls are to grow up to be leaders, they need comparable opportunities to develop their leadership skills through team sports. Expanding sports opportunities for women and girls will help achieve the feminization of power in all realms.

How can girls be encouraged to exercise?Father and Daughter

Parents' influence is important. Girls are more likely to participate if they have a parent who participated as a child, or who still plays sports. Also, parents can help by insisting schools provide equal facilities and opportunities to their daughters and sons.

For more information, click on the links below:


The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), which was Feminist Majorityfounded in 1987, is a cutting edge organization dedicated to women's equality, reproductive health, and non-violence. In all spheres, FMF utilizes research and action to empower women economically, socially, and politically. Our organization believes that feminists - both women and men, girls and boys - are the majority, but this majority must be empowered.

Women's Sports FoundationOur mission at the Women's Sports Foundation is simple: to advance the lives of girls and women through sport and physical activity. We live out our mission in many different ways.

Tucker CenterTucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport - The first and only one of its kind in the world, the Tucker Center is an interdisciplinary research center leading a pioneering effort to examine how sport and physical activity affect the lives of girls and women, their families, and communities.