Women on the field

In a photo dated from September 1972, one of the first women to join the Michigan Marching Band performs in front of spectators. (Photo courtesy of Bentley Historical Library)

In 1971, during an era when women on campus were advocating for inclusion in areas traditionally reserved for men, the University of Michigan eliminated its policy that allowed only men to join the Michigan Marching Band. However, many Big Ten marching bands, including U-M, resisted including women in their ranks until the passage of Title IX in 1972. Women first gained entrance into the Michigan Marching Band that year. This major change led to a large increase in the number of women in the band. Decades later, in the fall of 2001, Karen England became the first female drum major to lead the band into Michigan Stadium.

— Compiled from the U-M Bicentennial website; “Banding Together” by Jenn McKee, Alumni Association of the University of Michigan; “Women, take the field!” by James Tobin, Michigan Today; and the Michigan Marching Band website



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