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Sports Advocacy Network Convenes for 2nd Annual Meeting in NYC

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 marked the start of year two for the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sports Advocacy Network (SAN). The WSF created SAN in 2016 to build on our research, Beyond X’s & O’s: Gender Bias and Coaches of Women’s College Sports, the most comprehensive evidence-based research report on the reality of the male and female coach experience, which explores how coaches of women’s teams compare to coaches of men’s teams in regard to hiring, compensation, promotion and treatment in the workplace.

SAN is comprised of a distinguished group of advocates, stakeholders, Title IX experts and collegiate athletic industry leaders who are committed to eliminating gender bias by working together towards the ideals of diversity and inclusion. These thought leaders are invited to convene bi-annually to create and implement a solution-oriented action plan to increase women’s leadership and coaching in collegiate athletics.  The most recent meeting concentrated on reporting about the progress made on the first year’s action plan and formulating new ideas to update its three main areas: Education/Awareness, Research/Data, and Athletic/Institutional Intersectionality.

Led by WSF’s Chief Advocacy Officer Deborah Slaner Larkin and Director of Advocacy Sarah Axelson, the event featured contributions from several eminent organizations, including: NCAA’s Office of Inclusion and Gender Equity Task Force, Women Leaders in College Sports, Alliance of Women Coaches, National Women’s Law Center, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) and select collegiate institutions.  Throughout the day, discussion and collaboration focused on learning more about the challenges and experiences of women coaches and administrators, raising institutional standards to promote diverse hiring practices, and developing a communications plan to effect change through awareness, education and storytelling.

Larkin is confident that the Sports Advocacy Network will continue to be a driving force for diversity and inclusion in the athletic workplace: “As the collective voice for women in sports, the WSF continues to activate our role as convener in uniting changemakers from a variety of sectors: athletics administration, youth sports, law, education, advocacy, research and more.  This is a complex problem that will require the voices and actions of many to solve, and so we know that the concerted approach taken by the Sports Advocacy Network will have an impact on eliminating this pervasive gender bias confirmed by our research.”

The WSF advocacy team is now tasked with solidifying SAN’s priorities for the upcoming year and mapping its next steps, with the ultimate goal of achieving equity for women in athletic coaching and leadership.

Want to learn more about WSF’s Sports Advocacy Network? Email us at and ask to receive updates on SAN’s progress.