The bill stated, “No person in the United States shall, on
the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied
the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any
education program or activities receiving Federal financial
assistance.” That bill was title IX. President Richard Nixon
signed Title IX that same summer. It was enacted in 1977.
The five-year delay allowed schools and colleges across the
country enough time to adapt their policies, procedures, and
This legislation allowed swimmers like Donna de Varona to
receive scholarships for their athletic abilities. The year
before this law was passed, the University of Hawai‘i was
allotted $1 million by the government for scholarships. Only
$5,000 of that was spent on women, mostly band majors.
Mink graduated from Maui High School in1944. Valedictorian
of her class, she completed her undergraduate work at UH-Manoa.
She then attended the University of Nebraska where, for the
first time in her life, she faced the harsh reality of gender
discrimination. She had several friends in the medical program
there and had hoped to earn a medical degree herself. At Nebraska,
as at any U.S. college at the time, female students were not
allowed to take certain courses, such as auto mechanics or
criminal justice, and they were required to have higher test
scores and better grades than male applicants to gain admission.
Furthermore, medical and law schools limited the number of
women admitted to 15 or fewer per year. This inherent gender
discrimination kept Mink from becoming a doctor, but it also
fueled her ambition to change the discriminatory system. Mink
never earned a degree in medicine, but she was accepted into
the University of Chicago law school and graduated in1951.
She then found that getting a degree and getting a job were
two completely different things. She returned to Hawai‘i,
started her own practice, and taught at UH-Manoa. Mink become
involved in politics, successfully ran for local offices and
for the U.S. Congress. On January 4, 1965, Mink became the
first lady of color in the U.S. House of Representatives.
This year Title IX has been in effect for 30 years. Women’s
sports have increased 10 fold. HPU has created a position
of senior women administrator to ensure that the University
complies with gender equity rules. Our first compliance officer
is a two-time national volleyball championship coach Reydan
America’s female athlete talent pool has grown to new heights.
Title IX created a competitive forum for athletes, such as
Varona, to develop their talents and then take them to the
international stage. It made positive examples such as the
1996 Summer Olympics, when the U.S. women, in their first
year of softball and soccer of competition, walked away with
Although not many women go on to win gold medals they were
still able to finance a college education while representing
their school on the field of play. In fact, 80 percent of
women in Fortune 500 companies are beneficiaries of the Title
IX, according to the Women’s Equity Resource center.
Pasty Mink will no longer serve in congress, but her insight
and intuition will forever serve any young lady who lashes
up her shoes and steps on a sports field. Every school-girl
athlete should miss Patsy Mink.
Editor’s note: Yonie K. Espiritu is herself a product
of Patsy Mink’s efforts to establish gender equity in U.S.
colleges and universities. Espiritu attended HPU on a soccer
scholarship and is in her senior year on a journalism scholarship.