Changing the Playing Field

When Title IX–the landmark legislation that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding–was signed into law in 1972, it had an immediate impact at USC. Here, we celebrate the progress USC has made and the women who’ve helped pave the way for gender equity in all aspects of USC’s programming, from education to employment and extracurricular opportunities.



“I am thrilled about the fact that I was there in the very beginning. … I was in charge of the women’s athletics program, and I knew that USC needed to be a leader in providing opportunity for women in athletics.

“Women wanted to have a program comparable to the men. … At that time, many athletic directors were fighting Title IX; [athletic director John McKay] didn’t do that. He agreed to go to the university, and the university said yes. And the rest is history. USC moved ahead while many schools were just staying in place.”

Barbara Hedges, athletics administrator who helped implement Title IX at USC in 1973



“What Title IX has been able to do is create these brave spaces where people can come for support and education and also for mediation, for awareness, and for justice. … Knowing that Title IX exists along with policies that are enforced is definitely important in order to be confident and move forward.”

Annalisa Enrile, clinical professor, USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work



“Women, especially women of color, we need all the help we can get. We need all the help we can get from legal statutes that basically help us to just get through the door. Because once we get through the door, we can perform.”

Martha Escutia, USC’s vice president for state government relations and special counsel, on Title IX and how it helps provide opportunities for disadvantaged communities.



“We need to be sensitive to the fact that Title IX, though it may never be repealed, can be so eroded and challenged by the courts as it may not be as it is today. Our challenge is to fight, to uphold the principles and application, and never let it be ignored.”

Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, former U.S. Representative and former member, USC Board of Trustees



USC is hosting Title IX: 50 Years of Progress, a yearlong celebration of Title IX’s impact on campus. To read about more Trojan trailblazers, go to

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