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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Manhattan chapter.

By Bridget Turro

Being a division one athlete in college is a huge accomplishment but it is also a sacrifice you have to make of your time and energy. As someone who does not play a sport, I am intrigued by student-athletes, especially women, at a male-dominated college. My friend and roommate, Rory Graham, is on the women’s cross country and track and field team. Historically, track and field have been exclusively a males sport dating back to the Olympics in Ancient Greece where women were not allowed to participate; it wasn’t until 1921 that women were allowed to compete. Still, today in 2022, more men are involved than women. I asked Rory some questions about what it is like to be a woman in a male-dominated sport.

Would you say that the track team is unfairly male-dominated?

I wouldn’t say that it’s fairly male-dominated. I would say it’s just the luck of the draw with the recruiting classes. 

Do you face any discrimination on the team or at meets because you are a woman?

I don’t think so, especially at the college level they make the distances the same. In high school, at least in New York, the girls ran 1500 while the boys ran 1600. At the college level, everyone runs the 1500, everyone runs the shorter…so I think it gets better at the college level. 

I know that you have been running for most of your life, have you always noticed that it was male-dominated?

I think the coverage of a sport is more male-dominated for sure, and the women that do get covered are always the more attractive women, like the blonde white women, instead of all the women that are performing on that level.

Historically, track and field were used to reassure male dominance on and off the field, how does it feel to be a D1 athlete in this sport, and do you notice other men on the team that still have this thinking?

At Manhattan, our men’s team has been really supportive of the women’s team and I think it’s something about how we all practice together and have the same coach; I think that’s what really unifies us as a team. I think there is a little bit more of an air to it because men are running those faster times than the 4-minute mile barrier for women, it’s around 4:42 or something like that; people don’t think it’s as impressive as what the women do.

How important is the representation of women in male-dominated sports/ do you have anyone that you look up to as an inspiration?

I definitely think for women, especially young girls, looking up to athletic role models is very important and it is very important for me especially as I change and grow within my own sport. There are a lot of positive athletes like Gwen Jorgenson who is an Olympic triathlete, but now she’s a full-time runner, she’s really important when talking about your body health. I also like Molly Seidel who won a bronze at the Olympics, she’s very open about who she is and what she eats. Those are two women that I have looked up to.

Thanks again Rory for letting me interview you and share your thoughts on this topic!

Bridget Turro

Manhattan '23

Bridget is a sophomore at Manhattan College. She is majoring in political science and minoring in woman and gender studies. She loves animals, traveling and exploring NYC.