News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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March 27, 2014

Title IX has had ‘seismic’ impact on sports, says speaker

TERRE HAUTE — When it comes to the impact of Title IX, the numbers tell the story.

In 1972, about 30,000 women participated in intercollegiate athletics in the U.S. By 2011, that number had grown to 193,000.

In 1972, 294,000 girls competed in high school sports; by 2011, that number had grown to 3.2 million.

That growth in the number of women participating in athletics is nothing short of  “seismic,” said Linda Herman, a nationally recognized coach and athletics administrator who spoke at Indiana State University on Thursday.

The old stereotypes have changed as well, she said. “Our ‘tomboys’ have become student athletes,” she said.

Herman, a 1968 Indiana State graduate, was the inaugural Dr. Mildred Lemen Distinguished Speaker. She addressed, “Title IX: Why Should We Care?”

Title IX is federal legislation that mandated equal opportunity by gender in education, Herman said. While Title IX doesn’t mention “athletics,” it has had the highest public visibility and impact on women in sports.

A national pioneer for women’s athletics, Herman was a coach and athletics administrator at Illinois State University for more than 30 years.

Her talk generated some questions and discussion about pay differences between coaches of men’s and women’s sports at the college level and the lack of media coverage of women’s sports compared with men’s.

While some significant differences exist between coaches’ salaries for men’s and women’s teams, in some cases, “The jobs are different,” Herman said. When it comes to pay differences between coaches of men’s and women’s basketball, for example, “I don’t think those jobs are equal right now,” she said.

Media coverage and marketability are a factor, she said. Women’s sports must become more marketable, visible and in demand — which in turn, would produce more revenues.

The two issues of greatest concern to her now, she said, relate to media coverage of women’s sports and pay disparities for coaches.

During her talk, Herman noted that while great gains have occurred in the numbers of girls and women participating in sports, women in leadership and coaching roles have decreased, she said.

In 1972, when there were separate men’s and women’s athletic departments, women made up 90 percent of head coaches of women’s sports; today, that number is 43 percent at the Division 1 level.

In 1972, 90 percent of women’s athletic departments had female athletic directors; now, just 21 percent of athletic directors are women (for Divisions 1, 2 and 3.) On a positive note, female associate athletic directors have tripled since 1995.

She also stated that sports careers for women are increasing, but still inadequate. Just 17 percent of all sports industry executives are women, 27 percent of athletic trainers and 11 percent of sports information directors.

Also, financial support for women’s athletic programs has increased, but remains inequitable with men’s, she said, particularly in the areas of operating expenses and salaries for head coaches.

She also looked at media coverage of women’s sports  — only 2 percent of coverage on major networks is devoted to women’s sports; 88 to 95 percent of all sports coverage is men’s sports; and 15 percent of all sports media positions are female.

But when it comes to spectators of women’s sports, about half are women and half men.

Some of the greatest gains for women, in terms of role models, have occurred at the Olympics. In 1972, just 21 percent of Team USA was female. In 2012, 51 percent of Team USA was female. Also in 2012, women won 63 percent of gold medals for the USA.

Herman said there have been some significant societal changes since Title IX. Now, two-thirds of all Americans born after 1989 support continued change to achieve equality in the workplace, she said.

The number of women earning law degrees has grown from 7 percent in 1972 to 47 percent in 2010; the number of women earning medical degrees has risen from 9 percent in 1972 to 48 percent in 2010.

But efforts to improve gender equity and gains for women must continue, she said. “We needed Title IX 40 years ago, we need it now and we’ll need it 40 years from now,” she said.

The “pioneers” and “trailblazers” are getting older, she said. “We need a new generation” she told students.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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