Even though the word athletics is never mentioned in Title IX, the law had its biggest impact in sports.
In 1972, only 2 percent of school athletic budgets were devoted to women, and athletic scholarships for women were almost nonexistent. In 2009-2010, women received 48 percent of the athletic scholarship dollars at Division I schools, according to a report by the NCWGE.
The number of women participating in college sports has soared in 40 years, from 29,977 to 193,232. They now receive 40 percent of total money spent on athletics, but they account for 53 percent of today's college enrollment, the report says.
Women today grow up thinking that playing sports is as normal as breathing. The most dramatic impact of Title IX, many women say, is on how young women see themselves, accept their body types, and develop confidence that extends beyond athletics.
Consider Dawn Staley, 42, who grew up with Title IX. She went from being a playground star with the boys at the Raymond Rosen housing project in North Philadelphia to being a scholarship athlete at the University of Virginia, where she became women's basketball player of the year. She went on to the Olympics, won gold, and carried the American flag at the opening ceremony in Athens.
And after playing professionally, she went on to coach at Temple and now South Carolina.
"Title IX made that possible," said Maatz, "but I guarantee you she's not making as much as the men's coach. And I guarantee you there are more men coaching in women's sports than women coaching in men's.
"Title IX has opened doors, changed the face of women's opportunity," she added, "but it hasn't changed the gender stereotype as much as we'd like it to."
Betsy Lucas, 54, of Narberth, went to a big public high school in Baltimore filled with terrific women athletes, and not one got an athletic scholarship. She notes that her daughter, Maggie, a star scholarship basketball player and rising junior at Penn State, had women athletic role models since she could tie her shoes.
That alone was enormously empowering and encouraging, Betsy Lucas said.
Title IX, however, is still controversial.
More than 300 men's varsity programs at Division I colleges have been canceled in the last decade, and compliance with Title IX is often given as the reason.
That men's sports are a casualty of Title IX is a common perception.
Susan Francia, 29, a 2008 Olympic gold-medal rower from Abington and Penn who will be returning to the Olympics this summer, said this of Title IX:
"It's given girls a great opportunity to be part of a sport that otherwise might be brushed aside or not get the funding that bigger sports do. In that respect I think it's fantastic. On the other hand, I know at the cost of Title IX a lot of men's rowing programs have been shut down. That's the other side of it."
When Delaware canceled men's track and cross country last year, it said Title IX was responsible. University officials said that in order to continue gender equity, they needed either to expand women's programs or cut men's programs, and the former just wasn't financially feasible.
But Maatz calls this a "big myth."
"Schools like to use Title IX as a scapegoat when they don't want to tell students that they're cutting," she said.
One measurement of compliance to Title IX is proportionality. The percentage of women in sports at a given school should approximate the percentage of women in the student body. Delaware's student body is 58 percent female, yet more men were involved in sports.
But proportionality is only one of the criteria for compliance, Maatz said. There are two others, and a university need meet only one of the three. Another, she said, states only that the institution's existing programs fully and effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.
"If universities are having an arms race to have the nicest stadium or biggest loge boxes for basketball and football, and they decide to put their money there instead of into these smaller sports, that's not a Title IX issue," Maatz said. "Administrators don't want to take the heat from their student body, so they say it's just Title IX.
"Nothing in Title IX requires the cutting of sports to come into compliance."
Contact Michael Vitez at 215-854-5639 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @michaelvitez.