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Sports study shows progress, persistent gender inequities

The whistle just blew. It’s halftime. 

You’re losing. Your coach is telling the team we’ve made progress since the beginning of the season, but we still have a long way to go. You think to yourself, “What is progress? We’re down – what’s the score again?”

A 35-yearlong study on women in intercollegiate sport released the score last week, showing an unprecedented number of women’s teams leading to the highest women’s participation and employment numbers in intercollegiate athletic history.

“Some would point to this progress and say we’ve arrived,” authors R. Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean Carpenter wrote in a 2009 Academe article. “But progress is not completion. Movement toward equity is not full equity.”

Increases in athletic participation have not mirrored the percentage of women represented as coaches, athletic administrators and trainers. Despite a record-setting 200,000 intercollegiate female athletes, only 1 in 5 intercollegiate teams is coached by a female and the same number of athletic directors are female, according to report estimates.

Although more female head coaches train women’s teams than ever before, less than half of women’s teams are coached by women. In contrast, 97 to 98 percent of men’s teams are coached by men, a statistic that has changed little since even before the landmark legislation of Title IX.

Before Title IX was passed, 1 girl for every 12 boys participated in high school athletics, but now 1 girl for every 1.4 boys plays today, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

In 1972, more than 90 percent of women’s teams were coached by a female, but few female coaches were paid to coach and almost none coached men’s teams, the report notes.

It has been 40 years since Title IX, but almost 10 percent of all athletics departments still do not have one female administrator, which significantly decreases the likelihood that a female coach will be hired, according to report statistics.

Strength and conditioning coaches work with female athletes on almost half of all campuses, but less than 1 in 4 campuses have a female strength and conditioning coach on staff.

Women outnumber men as assistant coaches on intercollegiate women’s teams. However, females represent more than half of unpaid assistant coaches on women’s teams.

What is progress?

More than 99 percent of all schools have an athletic trainer and sports information director. However, only 1 in 3 athletic trainers and 1 in 10 sports information directors are female, report estimates show.

Halftime is over. We still have work to do.

Now we know the score.

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