Gender Policy Feedback: Perceptions of Sex Equity, Title IX, and Political Mobilization Among College Athletes (WP-17-13)
James Druckman, Jacob Rothschild, and Elizabeth Sharrow
Public policies invariably confer or deny benefits to targeted groups and individuals. How such groups and individuals react to their new status has fundamental implications for democratic representation. We study reactions of such “policy beneficiaries” to one of the most celebrated sex non-discrimination policies in United States history: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Using a novel survey of college-student athletes, we show that one of the policy’s core constituencies perceives substantial sex-based discrimination. This finding stands in stark contrast to the highly circulated narrative of policy success over the four decades since the policy’s initial implementation. Moreover, consistent with our expectations, these perceptions are particularly salient for women and those who perceive persistent sex discrimination in society. Our findings raise questions about democratic responsiveness (e.g., to whom are policy makers and leaders in college athletics responding?), and highlight the political nature of college athletics.