By: Morgan Jenkins
The Women’s Sports Foundation hosted a panel to celebrate 48 years of the civil rights law being in act. The Women’s Sports Foundation was founded by tennis World Champion and social justice pioneer: Billie Jean King. The panel was titled: Girls of Color and Title IX: An Unfulfilled Promise. The panel was moderated by women’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson. WNBA Champion: Candace Parker, University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball Head Coach: Dawn Staley, General Counsel and Senior Advisor for Education at the National Women’s Law Center: Neena Chaudhry, and Senior Director, Advocacy Sarah Axelson.
Title IX of the Education Amendments was signed by the President in 1972. This federal law prohibits discrimination of the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. The principal objective of Title IX is to avoid the use of federal money to support sex discrimination in education programs and to provide individual citizens effective protection against those practices.
One of the topics discussed was how there is little research showing how women of color are benefiting from Title IX because demographics only show women as a whole. Statistics show that 21% of all female Division 1 student-athletes are black. African American women are underrepresented in athletics across the board for sports including Lacrosse (2.2%), Swimming (2%), Soccer (5.3%), Softball (8.2%), and volleyball (12%).
This shocked viewers around the country as we watched these statistics show on our screens. If the opportunities are there are women of color to participate in these sports, then the numbers should reflect that.
Candance Parker shared her experience of being a former collegiate athlete of color. Parker was fortunate at a young age was fortunate enough to have a support system that pushed her to play basketball in and outside of school. This is something not every young black girl receives the privilege of having. She noted that It takes a community to keep these young women involved in sports.
Having more people who can support girls who have the passion to play sports, but lack the support needed to follow through with their dreams. This is something that happens in the African American community often.
So how can we help change the statistics? How can schools fulfill Title IX’s promises?
Promoting more all-girl organizations that create a community and provide opportunities for girls of color. The Women’s Sports Foundation has created the Sports for Life initiative with ESPNW in 2014. The initiative is established to create or expand opportunities for girls of color (Black, Hispanic, etc.). It has reached 162 community organizations across 32 states, with nearly 2 million dollars in funding in grants and more than 60,000 girls participating in 50 sports.
States working towards equally funding education. There are public institutions that receive less funding than others. These poorly funded institutions educate higher percentages of minorities. This also affects student’s retention rates in sports. If there the athletic programs are funded less, the equipment needed to participate is not of the highest quality. The “use what we have” mentality kicks in for a lot of programs. This can be discouraging for students.
“Advocating on the ground”. Creating more discussions for those who are not knowledgeable about the lack of diversity in women’s collegiate sports. “When you look around and you don’t see girls of color, ask why. When you don’t see women of color, ask why” – LaChina Robinson
You can stay connected to the Women’s Sports Foundation by following #TheEquityProject on social media.
Listen. Learn. Lead.
Overview Of Title IX Of The Education Amendments Of 1972, 20 U.S.C. A§ 1681 Et. Seq. (2015, August 07). Retrieved June 24, 2020, from https://www.justice.gov/crt/overview-title-ix-education-amendments-1972-20-usc-1681-et-seq