Indiana State University Newsroom

Life before Title IX: An impact on women’s sports

April 18, 2013

Jolynn Kuhlman and Mildred Lemen spoke to the campus community about "Life before Title IX" for Women's History Month.

Title IX is a federal law that states females should not be excluded or discriminated from participation in any activities.

Kuhlman, a professor in the department of kinesiology, recreation and sport at Indiana State University, was the president of the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education. Lemen was the chair of women's physical education department at Indiana State for 10 years and was honored by the Indiana Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. She was also inducted into the Hanover College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995 for her work establishing the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.

Before the law, women's athletics included working on posture, climbing ropes and building pyramids, the women said. Behind closed doors, they would play basketball, tennis or other sports.

"Physical activity was not encouraged at that time by the doctor," said Kuhlman.

After women started playing sports they were required to follow a strict dress code. Tennis players wore long dresses, leather sole shoes and corsets.

A lot of the women did not approve of the rules and worked to gain athletic equity. Title IX became a law on June 3, 1972.

Title IX "has opened up so many opportunities for women," said Lemen, including career fields, leadership and coaching opportunities as well as the ability to develop higher levels of self confidence and self-esteem.

Kuhlman urged women to not let anyone take Title IX away from them.

"Because it could go back just as fast as it came," she said.


Jolynn Kuhlman and Mildred Lemen speak to an audience about life before Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education.

Writer: Beth Pickerill, media relations assistant, Office of Communication & Marketing,