What It Means to Be a Woman in Sports

February 7th, 2018 is the 32nd annual celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD). Although this holiday may not be well known to college students, it’s important nonetheless. Colleges provide students with so many opportunities for all students to participate in intramural sports, club sports and college division sports. NGWSD’s website discusses that the significance of this day is to, “recognize the ongoing effort towards equality and access for women in sports and the nation’s commitment to expand sport and participation opportunities for all girls and future generations”. This day emphasizes the importance of maintaining and getting the most of of Title IX in order to promote equal opportunity in sports for everyone. I have been so fortunate to be able to participate in organized sports ever since I was seven years old, and that I’m still able to continue participating in sports today as a female college student. Understanding the significance of this day as well as Title IX puts us on the right track to obtaining full equality in athletic programs across the world.

 

What is Title IX exactly?

Title IX is a law that gets right to the point: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” In other words, everyone has a fair opportunity to participate in different athletic or recreational programs regardless of race, gender, status, sexuality, etc. This has opened up a lot of doors for the creation of different educational programs in schools as well as athletic programs.

What progress has been made for women in sports under Title IX?

First and foremost, the number of women participating in sports has grown tremendously over the past thirty-five years. Women participating in sports also gain important leadership skills that can lead to major positions in their desired field or career. From a young age, girls in these programs learn about how they can work together with others and make a difference in their community.

Is there still more to be done to achieve gender equality in sports?

YES. ABSOLUTELY. Although the opportunities for women in sports has increased over the years, men are still dominating this field. Coaching positions are being given to men over women, and women are still receiving less resources that they need to thrive in athletics and help others do the same. Many schools across the country still fail to provide athletic programs for girls. There is still much work to be done in order to reduce the occurrence of these issues, but at least under Title IX we’ve been able to take a step in the right direction.

What does this mean for us as college women?

As college women, we have to consider where we came from, and the generation of young girls who are desperately trying to get the same opportunities that we’ve received. Girls have so much potential building up inside of them. They are our future olympians, our future CEOs, our future doctors, our future scientists and even our future presidents. It is our responsibility as empowered women to support the hopes and dreams of young girls everywhere and prove to them that they can accomplish whatever they set their mind to.

Here are what some of your fellow Gophers have to say about what being a woman in sports means to them:

“As a woman, sports are not equal. Men are often looked at like they're "better" than us, and most of the time their teams and performances get more recognition than their female counterparts. Though frustrating, this hasn't been any reason for me not to love sports. If anything, it has pushed me to compete more and outshine the guys in any way that I can.” -Kaylee Shields, UMN ‘19

“For me, it was great to be surrounded by strong women, who were dedicated, tough, hardworking and persevering. It was great for me to see women bringing each other up and working together to be better. Nonetheless, it was a great experience for me to grow along strong women, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.” -Fabiola Gretzinger, UMN ‘19

“It’s rewarding being able to stand up and say that we can do that too, just like the men.” -Paige Friedman, UMN ‘20