Because of Title IX: Amy Wilson

Director of Inclusion, NCAA

Finish this sentence: “Because of Title IX..."

Millions of women and girls across the country have better quality of life and are empowered to make a positive difference in the world due to access and opportunities in education, including athletics participation. Because of Title IX, my 14-year old nieces, Layne and Paiten, only know a reality in which they have access to pursue their interests and goals in academics and athletics. They face so many fewer barriers to pursuing their hopes and dreams than the generations of women who came before them.

How have the athletic and academic opportunities afforded to you because of Title IX impacted your life? Can you imagine your life without them?

I have had access to educational and athletic opportunities that have transformed my life, supporting my development into a strong and confident woman. These amazing opportunities to learn and to play sports have given me the chance to experience success, and most importantly, to build meaningful relationships that have enriched my life in countless ways. One such example of these tremendous relationships is my 1993 Illinois College Midwest Conference Championship basketball team, who you can see above. (From left to right: Vickie Meiners Landis, Kelley Davis Liljegren, Lisa Kanallakan Jones, Amy Wilson, and Heather Dickens Francque.) We lost Kelley to cancer just recently after a very courageous and long battle. She used the tenacity, energy, and drive that she exhibited on the basketball court to fight this disease. I am so lucky to have played basketball with her and to have had her friendship. I can’t imagine my life without the opportunities Title IX has afforded me primarily because it would mean that I would have missed out on so many remarkable relationships and incredible people.

Tell us about a woman who championed you in pursuing your goals. How did her influence inspire or affect you and your career?

My first champions were my parents who instilled in me that I could accomplish anything if I worked hard and was dedicated to my goals. My mom bought me a shirt when I was a kid that said, “Anything boys can do, girls can do better.” My mom attended every one of my basketball games my senior year in college (except or one when she got stuck in a snowstorm on the way to Iowa!). From my parents, I have learned to pursue life with the attitude that anything is possible.

My champion for the past decade has been Dr. Christine Grant, Title IX and gender equity expert and former University of Iowa women’s athletics director and professor. One of the very best decisions of my life was to pursue my Ph.D. at the University of Iowa so that I could learn from and be mentored by her. I am very fortunate to have gained so much from knowledge about Title IX and gender equity from Dr. Grant. My relationship with Dr. Grant connected me with other amazing gender equity trailblazers like Dr. Bonnie Slatton, Dr. Peg Burke, and Dr. Charlotte West. The work I dedicate myself to every day is in honor of these pioneers who paved the way for current generations of girls and women to have the opportunity to pursue their goals and dreams in educational environments and beyond.

How are you continuing to champion the next generation of women and girls in sports, and raise awareness on the importance Title IX?

I have the great privilege of working on issues related to gender equity, Title IX, and LGBTQ for the NCAA’s Office of Inclusion. I am passionate about this work; it is my avocation. I champion the next generation by sharing my knowledge about the history of Title IX; young people must understand the struggles of the past to preserve this important law and realize that the progress only continues with their intentional leadership. I try to educate as many people as possible about how Title IX applies to athletics to empower all those who work in, play in, and care about intercollegiate athletics.

If you could send an empowering tweet to every woman and girl across the country, what would you send?

"When there are no ceilings, the sky's the limit. So let's keep going—let's keep going until every one of the 161 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves to have." - Hillary Clinton

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