Before 1972, girls and women who played sports had little expectation of gender equity. Most weren’t allowed to cross the half-court line in basketball. They made their own clothes and ran in makeshift shoes. They fought their administrations for access to equipment, transportation and locker rooms. Now, 50 years after the passing of Title IX, the federal civil rights law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in any educational institution receiving federal funding, women athletes have more opportunity than ever.
ESPN spoke with women athletes across generations from seven families about their NCAA experiences and beyond. They discussed how conditions have changed in their lifetimes and how wide the gap remains between men’s and women’s athletic programs. Read more of their stories here.
Katie and Azzi Fudd
“We’re not there yet,” Azzi Fudd says. “It’s my generation’s turn to speak up and make it better for the next generation.”
Cheryl Treworgy and Shalane Flanagan
“I can remember the resistance from men saying, ‘Are you serious? We got to give scholarships to women? Their skills are so far behind.'” Treworgy says. “I said, ‘You just wait.’ And it only took one generation. “
Maureen and Maya Brady
“When people watch softball, they realize,‘ Wow, this is a sport I enjoy. ’” Maya Brady says. “But I don’t think we’re getting represented on the biggest stages.”
Marsha Lake and Shea Ralph
“When I think about how hard it is for all of us, I think about what my mom did,” Ralph says. “She never gave up, so I can’t. … I have to keep fighting for my players, for my daughter, for her daughter.”
Gail Hillmon-Williams, NaSheema Anderson and Naz Hillmon
“Am I getting the same thing as a man, or as a white woman? Am I getting the same opportunities?” Naz Hillmon asks. “When we don’t have to think about that, that’s when we’ll really be in a good spot.”
Marilyn Bamberger Lyke, Heather Lyke and Sophie Catalano
“Kids today aren’t going to be quiet,” Heather Lyke says. “… It holds people more accountable if they realize … you’re going to get called out on it.”
Missy Marlowe and Milan Clausi
“It’ll be a really cool day when an athlete is at the top of their game regardless of their gender, and they are the best that ever did it and it doesn’t matter,” Clausi says.
Read all of these women’s Title IX stories on ESPN.com.