Tag Archives: NWLC

Title IX Inspiration & Invitation

Happy National Girls & Women in Sport Day!

This year is the 40th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, landmark federal legislation which dramatically increased sport participation opportunities for females in educational contexts. We have many reasons to celebrate this day, and part of that celebration is learning from the pioneering women who have been instrumental in fighting for implementation and preservation of this important law. I want to share with you some of their wisdom.

  • Dr. Mary Jo Kane, Director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota often states, “In one generation we’ve gone from girls hoping there WAS a team, to girls hoping they’d MAKE the team.”
  • Merrily Dean Baker, former Athletic Director at the University of Minnesota & Michigan State who also sat on the original committee that helped write guidelines for Title IX in 1972, told us this morning at a NGWSD celebration breakfast about her first foray into marketing women’s sport in the late ’70’s (there was no marketing and promotion of women’s sport at that time). She went to a marketing firm and got them to a campaign pro-Bono, and the theme of their campaign was “Not All Jocks Wear Them.” For obvious reasons, Baker told them that wasn’t quite the right tone.

Kane & Baker’s words highlight the progress that has been made, but gender equality in sports is still not a reality. Drs. Vivian Acosta and Jean Carpenter just released their 35 year update of the Women in Intercollegiate Sport report, in which they detailed that although 100 more female coaches of womenʼs teams are employed than in 2010, the total % of women coaching female athletes barely increased as is currently at 42.9% (in 2010 is was 42.6%).

Female boxers are fighting The International Amateur Boxing Association officials who are discussing whether women fighters should be urged to wear skirts in the ring at the 2012 Games. Many high level organizations around the globe rallied to write a position statement denouncing this rule. It reads:

This position is in line with our organizations’ overall mission of empowering women and advancing sport with the aim of catalyzing a sustainable sporting culture that enables and values the full involvement of women in every aspect of sport. We maintain that uniform guidelines for women athletes should not detract from respect for their dignity and professionalism, nor should they hinder athletic performance. Limiting women’s competition attire to skirts for the sake of accentuating gender or sexuality would detract focus from the athletic abilities and skills of these individuals and mark a step backwards for the sport of boxing and the sport movement as a whole. Women should be actively involved in decisions concerning changes in uniform rules, and these changes should take into consideration issues of gender equality and inclusiveness.

In the Sudan, the Islamic Fiqh Council in Sudan issued a fatwa (religious order) saying that it is forbidden for the country to create a women’s soccer team, deeming it an immoral act.

Today we should join together to celebrate advancements, but remain committed to fighting for social justice and gender equality for girls and women in sport around the globe. The winds of change prevail, but the direction it blows is largely up to us.

Gloria Steinem in a recent lecture for the Clayman Institute of Gender Research at Stanford invited everyone in the audience to do something outrageous for the cause of social justice. My invitation and challenge to you is to do ONE THING in the next calendar year that creates change for girls and women in sport contexts. Steinem closed her lecture by stating: “We must not hold our fingers to the wind. We must be the wind”

To read all the blogs in the 2012 National Women’s Law Center #NGWSD blog carnival, click HERE.

What I "Won" From Playing Sports

My first tennis trophy

As part of the National Women’s Law Center’s Blog to Rally for Girls’ Sports Day, I was asked to answer the question, “What did you win by playing sports?”

I would not be writing this blog if it weren’t for sports. I have “won” in nearly every way possible because of sports, I have:

1) a career in the study of sport/physical activity (referred to in academia as Kinesiology), which started with coaching women’s tennis at the NCAA D-III level.

2) a healthy body in which I can still be physically active (knock on wood!).

3) lifelong friends, amazing students and athletes, and influential mentors.

4) developed psychological, physical, social, and emotional skills which have helped me successfully navigate life (so far!).

5) expanded my personal and professional identity in ways that (on most days) I can be proud.

My most memorable tennis trophy

6) cultivated my voice in hopes of making a difference in the lives of others in and through sport.

There is not one part of my life that has not been shaped by sports.

I am in a unique group of women sandwiched between the generation older than me (grateful women who were the first to benefit from the passage of Title IX and knew of the days where opportunities to play sports were to be relished and enjoyed) and the generations younger than me (which includes some entitled girls who have taken those opportunities for granted and never knew how bad it used to be).

In my current role as Associate Director for the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota, I am keenly aware of the many positive outcomes of Title IX. Yet, this landmark federal legislation remains fragile and under attack.

Many argue that “we no longer need Title IX” due to the tremendous gains for girls and women in sport (and other) contexts. This simply is not true. In the briefing paper produced by the NWLC it states,

Since Title IX was enacted in 1972, girls have made great strides in athletics.1 But
even today, the law’s work is not done. Girls make up half of all high school students
nationwide but only 41 percent of all high school athletes, which means that schools
provide girls with 1.3 million fewer opportunities to play sports as compared to boys…even for those opportunities the schools do provide, girls’ teams often do not receive equal benefits and services. For example, female athletes are frequently assigned to inferior facilities and disadvantageous times to play. Although national data on the treatment of girls’ sports are not available at the high school level (unlike for colleges, which are required by federal law to report gender equity in athletics data every year), the available data and reports demonstrate the pervasiveness of discrimination against girls in high school sports programs
.

While I have won in so many ways playing sports (trophies included), I now have a responsibility to ensure that girls and women into the future will continue to win.


Equal Pay Day…not for female youth sport coaches!

fair-payThe following information is taken from the National Women’s Law Center’s Campaign for Fair Pay. April 28, Equal Pay Day, marks the day in 2009 when the average woman’s wages will finally catch up with those paid to the average man in 2008. In the United States, women are paid only 78¢ on average for every dollar paid to men. More than 45 years ago, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, making it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work. The following year, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted, making it illegal to discriminate, including in compensation, on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, and national origin. At the time of the Equal Pay Act’s passage in 1963, women were paid merely 59 cents to every dollar earned by men. Although enforcement of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII has helped to narrow the wage gap, significant disparities remain and must be addressed.

In Minnesota, my home state, in 2007 on average, women in Minnesota working full-time, year-round earned only 77% of what men working full-time, year-round earned — one percentage point below the nationwide average of 78%.

Since I’ve been writing about youth sport coaches in the last week, just a little data about this group as it pertains to being paid….or in this case, NOT being paid. In study being conducted by one of my graduate students, male youth sport coaches are twice as likely to be paid than their female counterparts in Minnesota youth soccer clubs. She didn’t collect how much pay disparity exists, which I think would be an interesting follow up study! I’ll share more of these research findings when we finish the full analysis.