Title IX and Greenhill: A Journey to Equality

Kaden Alibhai

More than 50 years ago, Birch Bayh, a Senator from Indiana penned a bill in hopes of achieving equality. The legislation, known as Title IX, guaranteed equal funding for both men’s and women’s activities for federally funded organizations.

The impact was felt nationwide with opportunities for women growing exponentially with the new law.

Although most commonly associated with athletics, the impact of Title IX is not limited to just sports. It has also had a significant impact on women’s education.

Prior to 1972, women were often denied access to certain educational programs and fields of study. However, Title IX has helped to break down these barriers and ensure that women have equal access to education.

“[Title IX] leads to the establishment of things like women’s history and women and gender studies. It makes womanhood part of intellectual discourse, and I think we certainly see that at Greenhill,” said Upper School History Department Chair Amy Bresie ‘96.

Recently, Greenhill has added both a Women’s History class and a Women’s Writing class to its curriculum, further displaying the idea of womanhood as a part of intellectual discourse.

“We go out of our way to make sure that we are reading women’s authors and hearing women’s voices,” said Bresie.

The Greenhill community is working towards the goal of equality. For example, a couple Greenhill students started the “Women in STEM” club with a focus on empowering the next generation of girls in the field.

However, Bresie believes there are still steps the Greenhill community needs to take in terms of empowering and uplifting women.

“One thing that I personally would like to see happen on this campus is equal numbers of students and families showing up to women’s athletic events, as they do to say football games or even like boys’ basketball games are always noticeably more well attended,” she said. “I would love to see that sort of atmosphere change a little bit. So we are supporting our female athletes just as much as we’re supporting the football team.”

There have been many people on campus who want girls sporting events to be at later times so that more people are able to attend the games; varsity girls tennis player, Sophie Schwartz, is one of them.

“It’s great to see students at both girls and guys sports. I think there are certain sports and seasons where both teams receive equal support. In the future though, it would be nice to see girls’ games during prime time so more fans can come out and watch,” said Schwartz.

Junior captain of varsity field hockey Zoya Iyer says Title IX has had a big impact on her life. She said, “It has had a big impact on my life because it’s given so many girls the opportunity to play sports at a high level,” she said, “And as someone who wants to continue playing sports [at the collegiate level], I know I wouldn’t have the same opportunities without Title IX.”

“Title IX didn’t affect Greenhill from a legal standpoint, but it completely changed the landscape for everyone,” Tom Perryman, Associate Head of School for Mission, Community, and Culture, said.

In the March meeting of Heart of the Hill (HOH) groups, each group did an activity that focused on famous women in Greenhill’s history. A video of female Greenhill alumni who benefitted from Title IX, as collegiate athletes, was also displayed.

Perryman and members of the HOH committee created the curriculum for the various meetings and agreed with the rhetoric echoed by the student-athletes and faculty.

“I felt and the Heart of the Hill committee felt that these rights that women have today, they didn’t exist not too long ago,” said Perryman. “And it’s important for our current students to recognize how privileged we are to live in a world where women have these rights.”

Students were given three puzzles of different women heavily involved in Greenhill’s past. They also wrote letters to the women, thanking them for their contributions to shaping the school into what it is now. The letters were then mailed out, so they could see the impact that their legacy is still leaving.

“I have heard back from all the women, and everyone one of them has said that they opened the letters up and just started crying. They said that it was so meaningful to hear from current kids today,” said Perryman.

Women’s athletics will continue to evolve as the Greenhill community continues to push forward, and new federal legislation is introduced.

“I appreciate that Greenhill is working to improve the culture around women’s sports and I’m excited to see what the future holds,” Schwartz said.