Over the past 40 years, Title IX has given college women incredible opportunities to participate in organized sports. But curiously/depressingly, as the number of women's teams — and, by extension, opportunity to coach those teams — has grown, the number of female coaches hired continues to shrink. American universities: is there anything they can't fuck up?
The numbers are pretty gross; according to the Tucker Center for Research into Girls and Women In Sport, when Title IX first became law in 1972 (thanks, President Nixon!), upwards of 90% of the people who coached women's teams were women. During the 2012-2013 school year? 40.2%. And this school year, the percentage dipped below 40%. Like I said, gross.
It's not an issue of supply and demand; as Christine Brennan points out at USAToday, the number of women who have played college sports has never been higher, so the field of women with the know-how to teach other women how to play is (one would think) correspondingly large. Yet, universities continue to choose men to coach women's teams with dismaying frequency. At some schools, like Oklahoma State, the percentage of women coaching women's teams hovers just above the single digits. And that's Bad News. From Brennan's piece,
"As women's team coaching positions become more visible and powerful, from graduate assistant to head coaches, women less frequently occupy those positions of authority," said Nicole M. LaVoi, associate director of the University of Minnesota's Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport.
"Most college men are coached by men, but less than half of college women in the biggest and most visible programs are coached by a female head coach. Therefore, women are not often visible role models in schools that are most often in the public eye."
Female role models are important to women — especially young women — and it sucks that colleges aren't considering that in their hiring practices. To make matters worse, while black women make up a sizable portion of college basketball players, another report issued earlier this year by the NCAA found that only 11.8% of women's basketball head coaches are black women. That's compared to 28% of men's programs being led by black men.
So, just to review: here are things that colleges are bad at — 1. protecting students from sexual assault and, once sexual assaults happen, investigating said assault in a way that is fair to the victim and the accused 2. treating student-athletes in profit-generating sports like more than free money trees they don't have to pay 3. preparing students for real life after college 4. being anything but shitty to non-tenured, non-administrative faculty 5. charging reasonable tuition that doesn't saddle students with future-ruining debt before they're even legally old enough to drink. And now, hiring or promoting women when they're not cajoled by the law or naysayers into doing so.
If Harvard were doling out grades about promoting equality in athletics, universities would get a big fat A-. (Everywhere else: F.)
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