University of Chicago Magazine Profiles Patsy Mink '51, Title IX Pioneer

From the University of Chicago Magazine:

Patsy (Takemoto) Mink was 14 when Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor. On Maui, where her family had lived for three generations, the authorities arrested many prominent Japanese Americans. Her father, a civil engineer, was taken away one night and questioned. He returned home the next day, but from then on the Takemotos lived in fear. Mink’s most searing memory was watching her father burn his Japanese mementos. “It made me realize that one could not take citizenship and the promise of the US Constitution for granted,” she later said.

Mink, JD’51, devoted much of her life to making sure that all citizens could share in America’s promise, including the poor, ethnic minorities, and women. Elected to Congress in 1964, she helped usher in the social-welfare programs of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, later fighting to preserve them after they fell out of favor in Washington. Her best-known achievement was Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, of which she was the principal author. Title IX prohibited sex discrimination in academics and athletics at institutions receiving federal aid. The law, together with the larger women’s movement, changed the country. In 1971–72, for instance, nine percent of law students were women. In 2011–12 almost half were. (Women made up 45 percent of last year’s University of Chicago Law School incoming class.)

Title IX is better known for opening up athletics to women. In 1971–72, seven percent of girls participated in high-school sports. By 2010–11, it was 41 percent. Betsey Stevenson, an economist who has written about the effects of Title IX, says the law “revolutioniz[ed] mass sports participation in the United States.”

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