Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Thursday, March 05, 2009

From the Women's Sports Foundation: Step-by-Step: A Practical Guide To Assess and Achieve Gender Equity in School Sports

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in all aspects of education, including sports. Consequently, no federally funded education program or activity can permit sex discrimination. Yet, more than 36 years after the passage of Title IX, we still struggle for equity. While tremendous growth has taken place for female athletes, in participation and scholarship opportunities, much more work is needed to achieve fairness. Though the numbers of girls and women who play sports has increased, women still do not have the same opportunities to participate in sports as boys and men. At the high school level, females comprise 49% of the student population but receive only 41% of athletic opportunities. In college, women comprise 57% of the college student population and receive only 42% of athletic participation opportunities. [1] This means that female high school athletes receive 1.3 million fewer athletic participation opportunities than their male counterparts, and female athletes receive 86,305 fewer at the college level. [2] These numbers may seem astounding, but every day examples of inequity can be seen in all facets of sports.

Here are some common examples: high school softball teams do not have fields on campus, while the boys’ baseball teams play in brand new stadiums; girls’ basketball teams have not received new uniforms in four years, but the boys’ basketball team gets new jerseys every year; the girls’ lacrosse team needs to duct tape their equipment together, but the boys’ lacrosse team has quality gear and pads. These examples represent some of the many cases of gender inequity that have come across the Women’s Sports Foundation’s advocacy desk.

To address these disparities, we have created this guide to help parents, students and coaches understand how to become your own advocates for change. Is your school treating its female athletes fairly? Not sure? We know that as you uncover inequities, you may want to correct them with the fierce determination of athletes striving for victory in sports. To guide you on your path, we have developed this step-by-step playbook to move you through your gender equity event. We grouped the Steps into four quarters, just like a basketball game. That will give you a sense of how to progress and play the game. Just follow these easy, numbered steps to gender equity and make sure that your school is playing the Title IX gender equity game the right way.

We have also provided you, as an Appendix, with many samples (or templates) for steps along your way. So, we won’t just suggest writing a letter, we’ll provide an example that you can tweak to match your objectives. We might also offer a petition, a meeting agenda or a rough script to follow in a conference. If your program isn’t up to par, these practical plans will help you reach the goal of gender equity.

It is time—long past time—to fully support Title IX. When we do and our female athletes win, we all win. V is for Victory. So is IX. In this case, winning is everything.

** Please note that the terms used for gender identification relevant to Title IX include girls and women, and boys and men. Typically, we use girls and boys to identify students through high school, and women and men for those in higher education. In the Appendix to this Step-by-Step Guide, the sample letters will use the terms (girls and women, boys and men) that are accurate for each scenario.