It took only 16 minutes for the U.S. national team to make history in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final against Japan. That’s when U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd scored the fastest hat trick, or three goals in a single game, in World Cup history.
For those who follow women’s soccer, the U.S. team’s third world title probably didn’t come as a surprise. But fans may not know one of the reasons behind the team’s success: landmark civil rights legislation that banned gender-based discrimination in U.S. schools.
Popularly known as “Title IX,” the law requires schools that receive federal funding to provide both sexes with equal opportunities to participate in sports. They also have to treat male and female teams equally in terms of access to coaches, facilities and other resources.
The impact on women in sports has been huge. When Title IX went into effect in 1972, only about one in 27 girls in the United States participated in sports in secondary school. Now the number is nearly one in three. Opportunities also have grown exponentially for women in college sports.
“I wouldn’t have been playing if there was no Title IX,” Lloyd, who played soccer for her secondary school and later for Rutgers University, told the Philadelphia Inquirer earlier in her career.
Participation in sports has long-lasting benefits for women off the field, including better grades and increased confidence. A recent study found that 96 percent of senior female executives played sports in school.