According to a recent report by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, women are participating in college sports at a higher rate than in the past, but men’s participation still surpasses women’s-and the funding gap between women’s and men’s programs is widening.
The report, released Thursday by the NCAA Office of Enrollment, marks the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Education Amendment Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in federally funded educational activities and opens up opportunities for college women’s sports.
“Title IX has been a federal law for 50 years,” the report said. “This milestone marks an appropriate time to ask why we are not there yet. How can we work together to eliminate gender inequality in education? How we can succeed in providing opportunities to participate in equitable intercollegiate athletics; In the use of resources to provide fair treatment and create a fair experience for all student-athletes; And in terms of recruiting and retaining diverse leaders who reflect the increasingly diverse student-athlete population and act as influential role models?
The report found that the number of women competing in college sports has increased significantly over the decades. The overall female participation rate in college athletics was 43.9 percent in 2020, compared to 27.8 percent in 1982, when the NCAA began organizing women’s championships across the division.
“The number of women competing in college sports is a huge lift from 50 years ago,” said Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.
In 2020, about 47 percent of athletes in Division I were women, compared to only 26 percent in 1982. However, in 2020 women made up 54 percent of students in Division I institutions, so the gender breakdown of athletes in the division was still out of motion with student organizations.
Meanwhile, in Part II and III, women’s participation was lower than men’s. In 2020, there was a 15.4 percent gap between the participation rates of men and women in Division II sports and a gap of 16 percent in Division 3, according to the report.
Men’s college sports opportunities have grown at a slightly faster rate than women’s sports over the past two decades. Male student athletes had about 73,000 participation between 2002 and 2020, with female athletes gaining more than 67,000.
“Sports was dominated by boys and men in our country for decades before Title IX opened the door to educational and athletic opportunities for girls and women,” wrote Amy Wilson, managing director of NCAA Inclusion and author of the report, in an email. “This‘ head start ’in terms of acceptance and opportunities for men in the sports world means we need continued progress for girls and women. I don’t think the reason for the backwardness is that female students-athletes are less interested in the opportunity to participate in college sports. “
A particularly surprising discovery was that Division I athletic divisions typically spend twice as much on men’s programs as on women’s programs, with the largest inequality in Division I football ball subdivisions, with about 130 organizations playing big-time football. The report found a difference of 23 percent of the total expenditure between the men’s and women’s athletics programs in Division I and 8 percent of the expenditure in Division II and III. The total expenditure gap has increased by three percentage points in Section I, one percentage point in Section II and has remained the same in Section III in the last five years.
The results come after an external review of gender equity at the NCAA Championships, commissioned by the NCAA and conducted by an outside law firm last summer, which found a spending gap of about $ 35 million between the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in 2019.
Across multiple reports of gender equality in sports, “we are seeing consistent results in terms of a clear increase in opportunities for girls and women,” said Ellen J. Strowski, a professor of sports media at Ithaca College, whose research focuses on equality in college athletics. That title didn’t destroy IX men’s sports. That misconception has been around for so long. We still see huge gaps in resource allocation. “
He believes there needs to be more transparency about how athletic departments spend their budgets.
“We need to look more precisely at where the money is actually flowing,” he said.
Wilson said he hoped the report would inspire the president, chancellor and heads of athletics departments to reflect the practices of their respective organizations and “prioritize equity in athletics.”
“I hope the overall data will reaffirm the inequality of campus and athletics department leadership opportunities for their participation, financial support for athletics and student-athletes experience and treatment in their women’s and men’s athletics programs,” he said.
Women occupy a relatively low leadership position in college sports, especially women from the following backgrounds. They hold about a quarter of the NCAA chief coaching and athletics director positions and 30 percent of the conference commissioner positions. Meanwhile, only 16 percent of the women’s team head coaches and women athletics directors are minority women.
The Lapchik report found the lack of women’s athletic leadership particularly disturbing. He believes it should be mandatory for the athletics department to have a different pool of candidates for positions to ensure more gender and ethnic diversity, and points to the “Russell Rules” adopted by the West Coast Conference as a model. The member organization is required to include a candidate from a historically under-represented background in the pool of finalists for each sports director, senior administrator, head coach and full-time assistant coach position in the athletics department.
“It is my hope that 10 10 years from now, 20 years from now, no matter what report we publish, we will be pursuing equality more closely for both race and gender in the years ahead,” he said.