The origins of Women’s History Month began in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28, which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” This continued over the next few years until 1987 when Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” Now every year, March is proclaimed the official time to celebrate and commemorate female leaders.
Before Title IX, only one in 27 girls played sports. Today, that number is two in five. This shows a dramatic increase in participation rates of over 900%. Girls want to play too. Let us continue to celebrate these historical achievements for women in sport while ensuring every girl has access to sports and the lifelong benefits they offer.
This month, join us in celebrating the incredible achievements of women in sport since the passing of Title IX in 1972, as we honor them across our social platforms and here on the S.H.E. Network. Below we have compiled just a few of the outstanding accomplishments in the last 45 years since Title IX’s passage.
Cheers to all the amazing women throughout history, past, present and future!
1972 Title IX is passed stating, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
1973 Roughly 90 million viewers tune in to watch Billie Jean King defeat Bobby Riggs in the iconic “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match.
1974 The Women’s Sports Foundation is established by Billie Jean King to advance the lives of women and girls through sports and physical activity.
1975 Coach Margaret Wade led Delta State to the first of the school’s AIAW basketball titles. Virginia Public Television broadcasts the game, the first time the women’s national championship game was televised.
1976 The first Olympic women’s crew and basketball competitions are held at the Montreal Olympic Games.
1977 On May 29, 1977 Janet Guthrie became the first woman driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500.
1978 The Amateur Sports Act is passed prohibiting gender discrimination in open amateur sport in the United States. Separately, a judicial decision is made allowing female sportswriters equal access to male athlete’s locker rooms in the United States.
1979 Ann Meyers Drysdale, who was the No. 1 draft pick in the Women’s Professional Basketball League, becomes the first and only female ever to sign a free-agent contract with an NBA team, joining the Indiana Pacers.
1980 While the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games were boycotted by dozens of countries, including the United States, the sport of women’s field hockey premiered at the Games.
1981 At eleven years old Crystal Fields defeats seven boys in the 9- to 12-year-old age group to become the first girl to win a baseball National Pitch, Hit and Run Championship title.
1982 The NCAA sanctions its first national championship tournaments for women in basketball, golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis and outdoor track.
1983 Named Sports Illustrated Sportswoman of the Year, Mary Decker becomes just the second woman to appear solo on the cover of the magazine.
1984 Sandra Baldwin is elected as the first female president of the U.S. Swimming Association.
1985 Bertha Teague, Senda Berenson Abbott and Margaret Wade become the first women inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
1986 The National Women’s Volleyball League is established and becomes the first professional women’s volleyball league in the United States.
1987 The Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM) is formed to identify and combat discrimination against women in sports journalism. Today they serve as a support network and advocacy group for women who work in sports writing, editing, broadcast and production, and public and media relations and work to promote and increase diversity in sports media.
1988 Judith Davidson is named Athletic Director for Central Connecticut State University becoming the only female athletic director at an NCAA Division I school to oversee all sports including men’s football and basketball.
1989 Victoria Brucker is the first girl in the Little League World Series to get a hit and the first to pitch.
1990 President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act. Today there are thousands of athletes benefiting from this far-reaching civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on mental or physical disabilities and allows those with disabilities to fully participate in the workforce and their community.
Bernadette Locke becomes the first woman to hold a full-time coaching position for a men’s team at an NCAA Division I school when she is hired as an assistant men’s basketball coach at the University of Kentucky.
1991 The United States Women’s National Team wins the first-ever Women’s World Cup for soccer.
1992 It’s reported that 1,997,489 girls participate in high school sports, an increase of 1,180,416 since the passage of Title IX in 1972.
1993 Julie Krone becomes the first female jockey to win a triple-crown horse race winning the Belmont Stakes.
1994 The Colorado Silver Bullets, the first women’s professional baseball team to play in men’s minor league baseball, play their first game.
1995 Skier Picabo Street is the first American woman to win a World Cup downhill series.
1996 The 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games heralded the largest number of American female participants – 277 – in the history of the 100-year event. It was also the year the women’s gymnastics team won Olympic gold with Dominique Dawes winning an individual bronze medal – becoming the first African American woman to win an individual Olympic medal in women’s gymnastics.
1997 The NBA hires its first two female referees, Dee Kantner and Violet Palmer.
1998 Women’s ice hockey makes its Olympic debut at the 1998 Nagano Games with the U.S. team winning the first gold medal.
1999 Participation for girls in high school sports reaches a record 2,652,796, an increase of 82,463 over 1998.
2000 At the Sydney Olympic Games, for the first time, women compete in the same number of team sports as men.
2001 Naoko Takahashi of Japan becomes the first woman to run a sub-2:20 marathon, clocking two hours, 19 minutes and 46 seconds in the Berlin marathon on September 30, 2001.
2002 At age 12, Michelle Wie becomes the youngest player ever to qualify for an LPGA tournament.
2003 On December 10, Jasmine Plummer, 11, is the first female quarterback to play in the Pop Warner Super Bowl.
2004 Candace Parker of Naperville (Ill.) Central High School becomes the first woman to win the Slam Dunk contest at the McDonald’s High School All-American Game. Parker is also the first woman to make a dunk in the contest and only the second to enter.
2005 Sheryl Swoopes becomes the first three-time WNBA Most Valuable Player in league history.
2006 For the first time in U.S. history, a major sports arena bares the name of a woman. In August 2006 the USTA renamed the National Tennis Center, calling it the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
2007 This marks the 35th anniversary of Title IX being signed into legislation.
2008 Danica Patrick crosses the finish line first at the Japan Indy 300 in Motegi, Japan, making her the first woman in history to win a major auto race.
2009 Lindsey Vonn wins her 33rd World Cup in the Super G, earning her the most World Cup victories by a U.S. skier. The win also wrapped up her third consecutive overall title, making her the first American skier to win three discipline titles in a single season. She also becomes the first American woman to win Olympic gold in the Downhill at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
2010 The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team wins 90 consecutive games, going two straight seasons without a loss from 2008 to 2010.
2011 At 22 years, 6 months, 8 days, Yani Tseng is the youngest player ever, male or female, to win five majors when she claimed the RICOH Women’s British Open in golf.
2012 For the first time in Olympic history, the U.S. sends more female Olympians than male to compete in the London 2012 Games.
2013 Tatyana McFadden wins the Chicago, London, Chicago and New York marathons, becoming the first man or woman, able-bodied or disabled, to win the Grand Slam (4 World Major Marathons in the same year).
2014 Thirteen year-old Mo’ne Davis becomes the first girl lead her team to victory and win a game in Little League World Series history with a 4-0 victory.
2015 The U.S. Women’s National Team wins its third FIFA Women’s World Cup championship in a televised final that is watched by 25.4 million viewers, making it the most watched soccer game in U.S. television history.
2016 With her 308th career match win at the U.S. Open, Serena Williams becomes the winningest player in Grand Slam history.
2017 Stamford Women’s Basketball Head Coach Tara VanDerveer earns her 1000th win joining Pat Summit as just the second women’s NCAA Division I coach to reach the impressive milestone in basketball.
Learn more about how the Women’s Sports Foundation is working to ensure all girls access to sport through our research, advocacy efforts and programs dedicated to increasing participation and retention rates of girls in sports.