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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono released the following statement commemorating the 41st anniversary this week of the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, commonly known as Title IX. This federal law protects students from gender discrimination in federally supported education programs and activities. The landmark legislation was signed into law on June 23, 1972.

“Title IX was signed into law more than four decades ago to open the doors of opportunity for new generations of women and girls. Because it mandates equitable funding for women’s sports programs, Title IX is most frequently associated with the development and expansion of women’s athletics in our schools and universities. As a result, the number of female high school students participating in sports has increased tenfold, and still continues to grow. After 1972, equal access to athletic opportunities at any federally funded educational institution became every girl or woman’s right by law.

“Forty one years later, Title IX remains important for reasons far beyond athletics. It is a commitment to the principle of gender equity. Studies show that the increased availability of women’s athletics at schools and universities has led to increased college attendance and participation in the workforce. More women are attaining college degrees and earning higher wages, and doing work in traditionally male-dominated fields such as science and politics. There are now 20 women serving as U.S. Senators, the highest percentage of female representation we have ever had.

“However, women are still underrepresented in critical fields such as science and technology and do not receive equal pay for equal work. We must continue to protect and strengthen the vision for gender equity that inspired Hawaii’s own Patsy Mink to co-author Title IX. Patsy felt the sting of gender discrimination in her own life when she was denied access to medical school, which helped spark her interest in politics. I am proud to have known Patsy Mink and to have called her my friend, and I will fight to see her legacy protected and expanded for new generations of women and girls.”