A Reflection on National Women and Girls in Sports Day

By Emma Gilham

“Millie Deegan, AAGPBL, Rockford Peaches. ‘The Babe Ruth of Women’s Softball'” by BullSharkGal is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

February 3, 2021 was National Women and Girls in Sports Day. At first glance, someone may wonder why there would be a national day of recognition for this. However, it is extremely important to understand women’s history and how we have progressed with gender equity in athletics. According to the article “Women’s Sports History”, “…public athletic performance by women and girls that was condemned as immodest, selfish, and attention-seeking, the trinity of bad-girl behaviors,”

in the 19th and early 20th century United States, women were not allowed to compete in the Olympics until the 1920s, and even then, they were inaccessible to many women that resided in poorer communities. Today, the benefits of physical activity and playing sports are undeniable, especially on young minds and bodies. Why are boys getting 1.13 million more sporting opportunities than girls per year (National Federation of State High School Associations 2018-2019)? The Women’s Sports Foundation’s “Keeping Girls in the Game: Factors that Influence Sport Participation”, lists many factors that may deter participation in young women and girls: parental involvement and support, stereotypes, representation, body image, lack of access and costs.

Even in the professional world, women athletes must fight to be paid the same or even closer to the opposite gendered teams of the same sport. In 2019, Forbes reported, “The top WNBA salary was $117,500 last season, compared with $37.4 million in the NBA. The team salary cap for the National Pro Fastpitch softball league is $175,000; the Boston Red Sox will split $227 million in 2019.” Although negotiations are constantly being made, this gap is incredible. Professional athletes should be paid and given the opportunities they are deserving of. Children should be able to enjoy and grow from sports without the hindrances of old-world thinking or inaccess. These issues are entrenched in this country’s history of sexism, and they cannot be fixed by simply doing one thing. Therefore, I’ll continue to push for recognition of National Women and Girls in Sports Day to celebrate pioneers of women’s athletics, and support efforts to encourage girls to be physically active and share in the love of sports. As students, faculty, and community members, we have the power to support our UMKC women student athletes. If you share these sentiments, look out for Roo Up! With the Women’s Center events on our social media pages and RooGroups this semester. 

https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/what-we-do/wsf-research/

https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Keeping-Girls-in-the-Game-Executive-Summary-FINAL-web.pdf

https://www.womenshistory.org/articles/womens-sports-history

https://www.forbes.com/sites/oliviaabrams/2019/06/23/why-female-athletes-earn-less-than-men-across-most-sports/?sh=7185015440fb

Second Wave Feminism: A Word From Scotty Johnson

by Danielle Lyons

I often joke that I was doomed to be a feminist from an early age. Instead of reading me children’s books, my grandmother told me stories about the how the 40’s – 60’s were for her as a women. Beautiful and tragic stories about body image, early days of reproduction rights and the pressures of domestic life. The bottom line always being, “You are powerful. You get to choose what treatment you accept.” She inspired me to care so deeply about the rights of women. I don’t believe she was aware of her feminism or what a bit impact it would have.

Second-wave feminist are important in our history as women. These beautiful, powerful and inspiring women paved the way to ensure us women today had a better life. These are the women that brought is, “Take Back the Night,” “The Equal Rights Amendment,” “The Equal Pay Act,” and “Title IX.”

It is my goal to learn as much as I can from these powerful women. This is important information to obtain. To kick off this journey for knowledge I interviewed a Women’s Center patron and participant of The Vagina Monologues, Scotty Johnson. This is what she had to say:

“When I was very young I became aware expectations were different for 11998638_10208036024010898_829682865_nmy brother and me. My role was to be pleasant and learn ‘women’s work’. His was to be strong and prepare for college and a career. No one seemed to care if I was smart and later good in school. Without knowing what it was my feminist self was born then. Ever since I have balked at the unfairness of gender based roles. I have become more outspoken. Naturally, with time I have become more educated and aware of the huge scope of women’s rights. Growing up in small town Midwest USA, I wasn’t exposed to much feminism except to hear it ridiculed by folks who just had no clue what it was or what it really meant. I was a closet feminist so as not to cause discord. Looking back, it seems apparent to me that pressures on women haven’t really changed. They have been re-defined and in some ways added to partially because of the progress each generation is making in feminism.

My spine became a bit more steely with the birth of my daughters. I still didn’t label the things I felt or thought about the gender biased role expectations. But, as a mom I was becoming more aware, less tolerant of it and more outspoken against it. For many years, to me it wasn’t just “feminist” it was about “fairness” and what I felt was “right” as a human. My feminism is solid but flexible. By that I mean, my method of being a proponent of feminism changes dependent upon the need. I recognize not everyone with whom I come in contact is going to instantly “see the light”. I am trying to be content with planting seeds. Other women inspire me. Other feminists who spend their days busily living their lives the best they can and yet will always take the time to lift other women up. My circle of friends constantly prod me to act, to be strong to share my feminism with pride. My adult daughters inspire me and prod me to action to help them create a world worthy of my grandchildren. I think in some ways we are still creating a niche that is not defined by men in all areas of life. This puts the added pressure of letting go of much that women have been programmed to believe in order to truly create a place that fits women, instead of women working to fit into a place already partially created.

Do the best you can to be faithful to the person who lives inside you. Don’t be afraid of growth, but remember sometimes that process is uncomfortable. Women are smart and caring and Strong. Be That!”

Wise works spoken from a wonderful woman.

Title IX: Working to Ensure Gender Equity in Education for 40 years

[youtube]http://youtu.be/3Jqj40dybSQ[/youtube]By Armelle Djoukoue

This year Title IX celebrates its 40th anniversary. Signed into law on June 23, 1972, Title IX guaranteed gender equity for girls and boys in every educational program that receives federal funding.  Most known as the law that gave girls equal opportunity in sports, it also applies to access to higher education, career education, education for pregnant and parenting students, employment, learning environment, math and science, sexual harassment, standardized testing and technology.  Here are some quick facts from the National Women’s Law Center:

  • Title IX is best known for creating more opportunities for women and girls to play sports. Title IX requires schools and colleges receiving federal funds to give women and girls an equal chance to play sports and to treat women and men equally when it comes to athletic scholarships and other benefits like equipment, coaching and facilities.
  • Since Title IX, the number of female AND male student athletes has greatly increased. The number of male college athletes has increased from 170,384 in 1972 to 208,866 in 2001; the number of female college athletes has increased from 31,852 in 1972 to 150,916 almost a five-fold increase. The number of high school girls playing competitive sports has increased from fewer than 300,000 before Title IX to 2.78 million in 2001. This shows that women’s and men’s interest in sports grows with their increased opportunities to play them.
  • Even so, Title IX’s role in athletics is not yet finished. Resources for women’s athletic programs continue to lag behind men’s. While women are 53% of the student body at Division I colleges, they are only 41% of the athletes, receive only 32% of recruiting dollars and get only 36% of overall athletic operating budgets. At the high school level, the inequitable treatment, budgets and equipment girls receive can be far worse.
  • There are important things that Title IX does not do. It does not mandate “quotas.” The use of this hot button word creates the impression that schools, especially in the area of athletics, must set aside a certain mandatory number of slots for women. In fact, every court that has heard this argument has said that Title IX does NOT require quotas. A school can comply with Title IX by showing that it is trying to expand opportunities for female athletes or that it is accommodating the interests of female students at the school.
  • Nothing in Title IX requires colleges and universities to cut men’s teams. Most schools comply with Title IX by adding athletic opportunities for women without cutting teams. A March 2001 General Accounting Office study found that 72% of those colleges and universities that added women’s teams did so without cutting any men’s teams. Football and basketball continue to consume the majority of men’s total athletic budgets in Division I-A schools 72% forcing the other men’s programs to compete for the remaining funds, with the women’s program also getting only a small share of the total athletics budget.

For the past 40 years, Title IX has had a significant impact on women and girls in America and changed the way they see themselves. For more information about Title IX visit http://www.titleix.info/Default.aspx and to find out about how Title IX continues to be a champion for women and girls in America, check out the National Women’s Law Center Blog.