Saturday is the 40th birthday of Title IX, the law prohibiting gender discrimination in federally funded education activities. Or that's its official goal. What it actually does is swing wildly in hopes of hitting an invisible threat.
Most people know of Title IX through sports. You probably heard of it while watching women's basketball or World Cup soccer, when it's been credited with making the games possible. Or you might have seen it blamed when your state university has cut men's sports like wrestling.
Title IX almost certainly opened more sports opportunities for women, though attitudes were changing markedly prior to 1972 and likely would have led to greater participation regardless.
The problem today is that many Title IX advocates see continued sporting disparities as ipso facto proof of continued discrimination. And the problem is so insidious, they seem to think, that girls don't even know how badly they want to play: In 2005 the U.S. Department of Education said schools could comply with Title IX by surveying students about athletic desires and offering commensurate opportunities. Title IX supporters deemed that unacceptable, and in 2010 the feds removed the option.
What did advocates fear? Likely that surveys would confirm what other evidence shows: Women don't want to hit the fields and courts at the same rates as men.