New York, NY (January 15, 2020) – With the start of a new decade, 2020, and the golden anniversary of Title IX on the near horizon, 2022, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) is staking a bold stand to gain true, lasting equity for girls and women in sports and beyond. Today the Foundation released its new national research report – Chasing Equity: The Triumphs, Challenges and Opportunities in Sports for Girls and Women – a comprehensive analysis of the current landscape and all its challenges, barriers, progress and opportunities, accompanied by a robust aggregate of calls to action to drive change. Putting knowledge into immediate action, the Foundation is also launching The Equity Project, a bold initiative designed to reach new heights in the fight for equal access to sports and physical activity for girls and women, to help spur unlimited possibilities in every facet of their lives. Both build on WSF’s rich history of protecting Title IX and promoting gender equity for girls and women in sport.
Taking stock of where the U.S. currently stands in achieving gender equity in sport requires study, transparency and candor, hallmarks of WSF’s approach to tackling societal issues. Comprehensive information in real time is vital for effective decision-making to achieve equity. The Chasing Equity Report examined the U.S. through a broad lens focusing on five core spheres of impact including: Girls’ Sports: Access and Opportunity; Title IX: Awareness, Education and Compliance; Mental and Physical Health, and Safety; Leadership, Pay Equity and Workplace Bias; and Media Coverage.
WSF holds a unique position in both sport and the gender equity arena. As the recognized thought leader in research and advocacy, it is a catalyst and influencer in shaping national conversations and igniting activism. This is a pivotal moment in women’s history – in sport and beyond – as the spotlight on gender equity has illuminated the obvious gaps across sectors and spurred a tremendous groundswell of support across the country. The Equity Project will convene stakeholders across sectors – sports, education, healthcare, business, philanthropy, law, and media – to collaboratively put the Chasing Equity calls to action into practice to reach measurable goals and outcomes and achieve lasting impact.
“As the ally, advocate and consistent rallying voice in women’s sports for over 45 years, WSF has made a tremendous difference in helping girls and women reap the powerful, life-long benefits of sports participation – and the potential is there to accelerate the change even further,” said WSF CEO, Deborah Antoine. “We are excited to usher in the new decade with the launch of The Equity Project, a natural outgrowth of our Foundation’s strategy which is rooted in impacting participation, policy and practice in sustainable, measurable ways. Some may say this initiative is a very ambitious undertaking – we agree. Our Foundation is built on taking courageous action to change society for the better. We are resolute in achieving our vision that one day girls and women will no longer be chasing equity, they will be living it fully.”
About the Chasing Equity Report
The report drew upon both primary and secondary sources. A team of researchers conducted: an extensive literature review of nearly 500 research studies and reports from scholars, sport governing bodies and public policy organizations; a review of public reports filed by colleges and universities, including selected lawsuits; and a review of media reports primarily spanning the time period between 2014-19; all with the goal of gathering, analyzing, and reporting facts and findings that describe the realities for girls and women in sport in the U.S. Using these findings, WSF then developed calls to action that address perennial issues that have held girls and women back from participating and working in sport as fully enfranchised peers and colleagues of boys and men. To further supplement, the Foundation also undertook a nationally representative survey of U.S. female sport leaders (N=2,356) from across all sectors of girls’ and women’s sport (youth, high school, college, elite/Olympic, and professional) to gauge their thoughts about where progress has been made, where things have stalled, and what steps they recommend be taken to empower girls and women further as participants and as professionals within sport organizations in the U.S.
Key Findings from the report include (and are not limited to):
Participation and opportunity
· Urban and rural girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys (i)
· 70% of female sports leaders say lack of women’s sports media coverage limits girls’ sport participation (ii)
· 87% of all three NCAA divisions combined offered disproportionately higher number of athletic opportunities to male athletes compared to their enrollment (iii)
· 83% of college coaches say they have never received formal Title IX training (iv)
· 31% of female coaches believe they risk losing their job if they spoke up about Title IX and gender equity (v)
Working in sports
· 60% of female sports leaders report they have experienced sex discrimination in the workplace (vi)
· 60% of female sports leaders report being paid less for doing the same job as a man (vii)
To learn more and download the Chasing Equity Report and summary, please visit https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/what-we-do/wsf-research/.
About The Equity Project
This bold, new, multiyear WSF initiative will be a shared vision supported by intentional policies and practice to drive meaningful change in gender equity. As a recognized catalyst and convener, the Foundation is well-suited to bring together leaders in every sector – from grassroots, to education, not-for-profit, philanthropy, business, healthcare, law and media – to leverage their expertise and accelerate the pace of change. As diversity of expertise and perspective is vital, participants will be comprised of longtime activists, philanthropists, organizational partners at the grassroots and corporate levels, as well as the newest generation of activists. The Equity Project will unfold over the coming months with continued convenings, communication and advocacy efforts to identify measurable goals and outcomes within the five core spheres of impact stemming from the Chasing Equity Report.
WSF will share more details about The Equity Project as the initiative unfolds in the months ahead.
About the Women’s Sports Foundation
The Women’s Sports Foundation exists to enable girls and women to reach their potential in sport and life. We are an ally, an advocate and a catalyst. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, we strengthen and expand participation and leadership opportunities through research, advocacy, community programming and a wide variety of collaborative partnerships. The Women’s Sports Foundation has positively shaped the lives of millions of youth, high school and collegiate student-athletes, elite athletes and coaches. We’re building a future where every girl and woman can #KeepPlaying and unlock the lifelong benefits of sport participation. All girls. All women. All sports. To learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation, please visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org
Women’s Sports Foundation
i. Sabo, D., & Veliz, P. (2008). Go Out and Play: Youth sports in America. East Meadow, NY: Women’s Sports Foundation.
ii. Staurowsky, E. J., Watanabe, N., Cooper, J., Cooky, C., Lough, N., Paule-Koba, A., Pharr, J., Williams, S., Cummings, S., Issokson-Silver, K., & Snyder, M. (2020). Chasing Equity: The Triumphs, Challenges, and Opportunities in Sports for Girls and Women. New York, NY: Women’s Sports Foundation.
iii. U.S. Department of Education (2019). Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act Data Analysis Cutting Tool
iv. Staurowsky, E. J., & Weight, E. (2013, April). Discovering Dysfunction in Title IX Implementation: NCAA Administrator Literacy, Responsibility, and Fear. Journal of Applied Sport Management, 5(1), 1-30.
v. Sabo, D., Veliz, P., & Staurowsky, E. J. (2016). Beyond Xs and Os: Gender Bias and Coaches of Women’s Teams. East Meadow, NY: Women’s Sports Foundation
vi. Staurowsky et al., 2020
vii. Staurowsky et al., 2020