GOOD

The Gender Gap Is Closing In Youth Sports, But There’s One Big Problem

How school segregation impacts opportunities for kids in sports

By standard measures, there has never been more opportunity for girls to participate in youth and college sports than there was in 2016. This is positive, but normal. Participation numbers have steadily risen since the passing of landmark education legislation Title IX in 1972. Here’s where we stood this year:


•There were 3.3 million girl participants in high school varsity sports (compared to 4.5 million boys)

•Around 212,000 women played on NCAA sports teams (compared to 275,000 men)

•There were 10,449 women's college sports teams in NCAA divisions (compared to 9,057 men’s teams)

This four-decades-long growth is testament to the power of federal policy specifically designed to combat discrimination in education, but it also offers a limited picture of the problem. General statistics obscure the fact that the trend, at least on a high school level, is driven by schools that don’t represent the public, and often is not reflected in schools serving racially diverse communities.

In May, the Government Accountability Office released data showing that the number of public schools with over 75 percent black and Hispanic students nearly doubled between 2000 and 2014, now accounting for 16 percent of all public K-12 schools. Six decades after the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of public schools in Brown v. Board of Education, resegregation is surging. And the GOA report shows that modern segregation, as in 1954, produces resource inequalities—these schools offer disproportionately fewer math, science, and college prep courses and have disproportionately higher rates of suspension and expulsion.

This unequal provision of school programs extends into sports—and disproportionately impacts girls of color. As the National Women’s Law Center reported last year, 40 percent of heavily minority schools (10 percent or less white) have large gender inequality in athletics, compared to just 16 percent of heavily white schools (90 percent or more white) schools. An athletic gender gap is considered to be “large” if the percentage of total spots on sports teams allocated to girls is at least 10 points lower than the percentage of girls attending the school.

Image via National Women’s Law Center

Translating into real numbers, at heavily white high schools, there are 58 available spots on girls sports teams for every 100 students, while at heavily minority high schools there are just 25 spots per 100 students. Put simply, girls of color receive the fewest opportunities to play. The authors of the study offer a blunt conclusion, urging comprehensive policy reform:

Girls of color are finishing last when it comes to opportunities to play sports in school and missing out on the lifelong benefits that accompany athletic participation. While the playing field is far from level for girls in general, it is particularly uneven for girls in heavily minority schools. Tackling the problem will require policymakers at all levels—federal, state, and local—and communities to work together to increase opportunities for girls of color to play sports and be physically active. Doing so is not only required by law, but is also a critical investment in their future.

Continuing to increase investment in girls sports at all schools is important. But if we are truly committed to making youth sports accessible to girls—in the face of an incoming secretary of education whose policy preferences exasperated school segregation in Michigan—we can’t separate interscholastic athletic inequities from segregation. We also can’t cheer broad progress while ignoring that women of color are doubly marginalized in sport, shown even more recently in England’s latest national fitness survey.

Sports
via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

The phrase "stay in your lane" is usually lobbed at celebrities who talk about politics on Twitter by people who disagree with them. People in the sports world will often get a "stick to sports" when they try to have an opinion that lies outside of the field of play.

Keep Reading
Culture

The Free the Nipple movement is trying to remove the stigma on women's breasts by making it culturally acceptable and legal for women to go topless in public. But it turns out, Free the Nipple might be fighting on the wrong front and should be focusing on freeing the nipple in a place you'd never expect. Your own home.

A woman in Utah is facing criminal charges for not wearing a shirt in her house, with prosecutors arguing that women's chests are culturally considered lewd.

Keep Reading

In August, the Recording Academy hired their first female CEO, Deborah Dugan. Ten days before the Grammys, Dugan was placed on administrative leave for misconduct allegations after a female employee said Dugan was "abusive" and created a "toxic and intolerable" work environment. However, Dugan says she was actually removed from her position for complaining to human resources about sexual harassment, pay disparities, and conflicts of interest in the award show's nomination process.

Just five days before the Grammys, Dugan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and her claims are many. Dugan says she was paid less than former CEO Neil Portnow. In 2018, Portnow received criticism for saying women need to "step up" when only two female acts won Grammys. Portnow decided to not renew his contract shortly after. Dugan says she was also asked to hire Portnow as a consultant for $750,000 a year, which she refused to do.

Keep Reading