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Examining the impact of Title IX - Tuesday, June 19, Washington, D.C.
Title IX, a landmark gender equity law, was signed into law forty years ago by then-president Richard M. Nixon. Included in the education amendments of 1972, the law requires equal treatment of boys and girls in educational programs that receive federal funds.

Rear Adm. Sandra L. Stosz, superintendent, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, provided testimony to a Senate panel about the importance of Title IX for women in sports and education in general.

Other speakers included: Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Olympic swimming gold medalist, and professor of law, Florida Coastal School of Law; Mae Carol Jemison, physician and retired NASA astronaut; and tennis champion Billie Jean King.

TESTIMONY OF REAR ADMIRAL SANDRA STOSZ
SUPERINTENDENT, U.S. COAST GUARD ACADEMY

ON “FORTY YEARS AND COUNTING: THE TRIUMPHS OF TITLE IX”

BEFORE THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON HEALTH, EDUCATION, LABOR, AND PENSIONS

JUNE 19, 2012
 

Good morning Chairman Harkin, Senator Enzi, and distinguished Members of the Committee. I am Rear Admiral Sandra Stosz, Superintendent of the U. S. Coast Guard Academy. It is a pleasure to be here today to talk about the Triumphs of Title IX.

I must start by thanking the many women who went before me, on whose shoulders I stand – the female athletes and members of the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve – and all the women and men who supported seminal legislation that offered women like me opportunities never before available.

I am continually thankful to have been born at exactly the right time to benefit from Title IX and other equal rights legislation. By the time I entered high school, Title IX had been in place for two years, and I participated as an active member of the varsity basketball and track and field teams. Athletics shaped and focused me and gave me the confidence to realize that through perseverance and hard work, I could pave my own road to success. Winning the state championship in my track and field event was a life-changing experience for me, and I am confident it is what motivated me to set my sights high and helped distinguish me when applying for admission to the Coast Guard Academy.

Receiving a high school education rich in science and math also played an important role in preparing me for success in life. My father was a scientist, and as a young girl I always dreamed of becoming a biologist, zoologist, ornithologist or anything ending in “ologist.” I took all the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math courses available to me in high school, and built my confidence as a result of induction into the National Honor Society and graduating in the top five percent of my high school class.

In 1976, when I was a rising junior in high school, the U. S. Coast Guard Academy led the federal armed service academies in opening their doors to admit women. In 1978 I entered the Coast Guard Academy as a member of just the third class of women. Although the Academy’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math majors were all open to women, varsity sports had to be started from scratch.

I graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1982 and now, 30 years later, have the distinct honor and privilege of serving as Superintendent of my alma mater. Although I benefited greatly from Title IX, the real success story is evident in the achievements of the young women who now comprise one-third of the cadet corps.

These young women earn STEM degrees and compete in varsity or club sports in basically the same proportion as their male counterparts.

I am very proud of our women’s varsity sports teams. This year, our women’s volleyball team won the Conference championship. Women’s varsity crew placed seventh in the NCAA Division III national rowing championship and was led by All-American Ensign Sarah Jane Otey, a scholar-athlete who has been nominated as the NCAA Woman of the Year. Finally, our women’s softball team, led by All-American pitcher Ensign Hayley Feindel, placed third in the NCAA Division III regional tournament.

When the Coast Guard Academy first admitted women in 1976, the decision was made to offer women parity with men in a significant manner beyond academic majors and sports – women were offered access to every operational specialty.

This fostered a healthy culture of inclusion and equality versus the perception that women are less capable of performing the more demanding roles. I am thankful the Coast Guard Academy provided me equal access and parity from the start. Through hard work and perseverance, it was a natural progression that a woman like me could rise through the ranks to serve as the first female superintendent of a federal service academy.

A generation after implementation of Title IX and other laws offering women equal opportunity, I am proud to see young women and men graduating with confidence and competence from the U. S. Coast Guard Academy as leaders of character in selfless service to their nation. Although Title IX benefitted me, and provided me the opportunities necessary for a successful personal and professional life, I am most thankful for its lasting impact on successive generations of young women who will someday replace me.

I want to close by thanking the Committee for offering this chance to reflect back on a significant moment in our nation’s history. Title IX had a huge, positive impact. We owe it to those who worked so hard to provide us with these priceless opportunities to reflect back with thanks for what they did and to look forward with conviction to do our part to make this great nation even better for the next generation.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I look forward to your questions.