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Women in Sports task force releases final report ahead of Title IX 50th anniversary

basketball ball and net on black background
Posted at 4:19 PM, Jun 22, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Task Force on Women in Sports released its final report Wednesday, one day ahead of the 50th anniversary of Title IX.

The report focuses on inequities for women and girls in Michigan athletics, while highlighting ways to support women and girls in sports throughout the state.

The task force found that there are far-reaching benefits in athletics and other sectors when opportunities for girls and women in sports are increased.

GVSU softball
GVSU softball players meet in the circle during the NCAA Regional

“The 50th anniversary of Title IX is the perfect time to reflect on what’s been accomplished and what work remains to be done for achieving gender equality," said Keri Becker, Grand Valley State University’s athletic director. “It is my hope that Grand Valley State University can serve as a model for others as we have worked to intentionally elevate women’s sports, build inclusivity and increase equity through several initiatives.”

Richard Nixon signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 into law.

It states: “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.”

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, the amount of girls participating in high school sports has grown exponentially since Title IX became a law.

Fewer than 300,000 girls played high school sports in the 1971-1972 school year.

Compare that to the 2018-2019 school year, when nearly 3.5 million girls participated in high school sports.

Hudsonville soccer
Hudsonville soccer

At the collegiate level, women made up only 15% of all NCAA athletes before Title IX, when fewer than 30,000 women played college sports; whereas now, women make up 44% of NCAA athletes, with more than 215,000 female participants.

However, the report found that, even 50 years after Title IX became a federal law, girls and women still get fewer opportunities in sports.

The report says women and girls see lower levels of investment, training resources and safety assurance than men and boys in sports.

It says women who succeed as professional athletes or work in university or professional sports often hit a glass ceiling and a significant pay gap.

The Women’s Sports Foundation says men still have 60,000 more opportunities in college sports, compared to women.

The task force highlighted many ways to support women and girls in sports, including the following:

  • Modernize and expand upon Federal Title IX laws, while increasing protections, compliance and accountability by:
    • Creating Governor’s Awards to recognize schools, colleges and universities that excel in Title IX compliance and transparency
    • Creating a required certification process that prevents and addresses Title IX concerns, while mandating Title IX review committees, spot checks and regular audits
    • Working with partners, like the Michigan High School Athletic Association, to boost Title IX training for school administrators, coaches and athletes
  • Invest in girls’ athletics as a pathway to leadership in sports and other industries by:
    • Educating stakeholders on gender bias and systemic barriers in sports, along with actionable solutions
    • Designating state funding or local government grants to support gender equity and girl-specific sport-related programming
    • Identifying, connecting to and consulting with search firms that focus on finding women leaders and executives for sports organizations
    • Providing scholarships to incentivize and reward women with sports-industry aspirations
  • Market and pay for future opportunities and access for girls and women in all levels of sports by:
    • Promoting and celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day with statewide coordinated events, activities and messages
    • Campaigning for more women to enter the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in all categories
    • Highlighting and expanding opportunities for girls and young women to learn about sports careers through regional career days, workshops and other programs

You can read the full final report on the Task Force on Women in Sports website.

Megan Rapinoe USWMNT
FILE - In this July 7, 2019, file photo, United States' Megan Rapinoe lifts up a trophy after winning the Women's World Cup final soccer match between US and The Netherlands at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France. The 2023 Women's World Cup will be spread across nine cities in Australia and New Zealand. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)

“The relationship between girls’ sports participation and business success, whether as an entrepreneur or in the C-suite, is clear. Pay equity increases, employees are more satisfied and companies perform better when women are part of leadership teams," said Carolyn Cassin, president and CEO of Michigan Women Forward. “The skills gained from playing sports, such as teamwork, resilience, problem solving and competitiveness, give these women a unique advantage in the business world. Michigan Women Forward is proud to help continue the work of the Task Force to support the implementation of the solutions to increase gender equity,”