Women have been fighting for equal rights for hundreds of years. Only since the nineteenth century have women been recognized as equals. They have won the right to vote, work, control their bodies, etc. In order to strengthen women's fight for equality, gender equity is necessary in collegiate sports. One can see this inequality present in the amount of benefits each gender receives, in monetary problems that arise, and with gender equality laws. Compton's Encyclopedia gives a good view of how women were thought of in early years:
Since early times women have been uniquely viewed as a creative source of human life. Historically, however, they have been considered not only intellectually inferior to men but also a major source of temptation and evil... Early Roman law described women as children, forever inferior to men. (Compton's Encyclopedia, CD-ROM)
Since those times, women have been striving for equality all over the world, but in the United States, women will take this fight to new heights. In the United States, women contended with the government over the right to vote. In an article by Mary Thom in Ms. Magazine, the judgment over the right to vote was revealed:
"...Congress finally voted for the ERA [Equal Rights Amendment] and passed it to the states for ratification on March 22, 1972... the ERA now read: 'Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United State on account of sex'.” (Thom p. 83-85)
The ERA only produced the right to vote, so women still had a long way to go. There is an excerpt in the Grolier's Encyclopedia of Knowledge pertaining to the abortion cases of Roe v. Wade and
Doe v. Bolton:
Roe involved a Texas statute making it a felony for anyone to destroy a fetus except on 'medical' advice for the purpose of saving the mother's life. Doe dealt with a Georgia statute allowing an abortion when the woman's life was endangered, when the child would be born with a severe defect, or when pregnancy resulted from rape. (Grolier's Encyclopedia of Knowledge pgs. 133-134)
Invalidating both statutes in 7-2 rulings, the [Supreme] Court speaking through Justice Harry Blackmon, held that the constitutional right of privacy-whether based on the 14th Amendment's concept of personal liberty or on the 9th Amendment's reservation of rights to the people-'includes the right of a woman to decide whether or not to terminate her pregnancy'. (Grolier's Encyclopedia of Knowledge pgs. 133-134)
Women have proven that they can obtain rights to do whatever they want with their private lives, nowadays, women are proving that they can acquire rights to their athletic lives as well. This is where Title IX comes into play. Title IX is a law passed in 1970 that "...bans sex discrimination in schools receiving
federal funds" (Herwig, USA Today p. 1C). Title IX was supposed to equalize collegiate sports, but most schools have either avoided the law, or have been penalized by the NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Administration] for not obeying the law. Because some colleges have gotten around Title IX, "...NCAA
executive director Dick Schultz created the Task Force...to define gender equity, provide solutions and make sure that NCAA rules are not inequitable" (Herwig, USA Today p. 1C). There have been "eleven Title IX-related suits filed since last spring. They range from reinstatement of women's sports programs, upgrading club teams to varsity status and retaliatory firings related to Title IX complaints" (Herwig, USA Today p. 9C). Those complaints have a lot to do with the lack of enforcement of Title IX.
An example of how lacking the enforcement is on Title IX is that "...in most areas of college athletics, men lead women by considerable margins" (Collins, USA Today p.11). "Only about 18% of the $175 million scholarship money is used on female athletes" (Priest, USA Today p.8 section A). "Men's basketball makes TV revenues in excess of over $1 billion..." (Wiesberg, USA Today, p. 9 section C). Another example is the "ratings for the 1994 North Carolina-Louisiana Tech championship game
(CBS), hailed as the greatest title game ever, dropped to 3.7 (Nielson rating)...down from 5.5 in 1993" (Parker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, p. 12 section C).
Some possible solutions that the NCAA enacted on for gender equality are that they "...retained the scholarship limit for Division I women's basketball at 15-two more than the limit for men's basketball, allowed women who competed in intercollegiate athletics before the NCAA sponsored women's championships (1981) to return to complete their four years of eligibility" (Schultz, USA Today, p.11 section A). Being interviewed by Cindy Somers, Dr. Vivian Acosta talks about possible solutions to the attendance for women's basketball:
"...as far as generating revenue, that's an overstated argument. First of all, if women (basketball teams) got even 60% of the finances and media attention men get, the people would be in the stands. And secondly, the NCAA itself has reported that 91% of division I men's programs do not make any money and are operating in the red. That's just an easy cop-out to avoid giving women their due" [Somers, Tucson (Arizona) Citizen, pgs. 4-5A].
Since the early eighties, men's college sports have been superior to women's teams, but now thanks to laws like Title IX, the gender gap might shorten a little. Today's world should try and help equalize college sports, because doing so is one step in leveling the male/female difference. Women have come a long way since the early part of the century, both in sports and in the workplace, but they still have a considerable way to go. Women need to keep fighting for equal rights no matter what the setbacks may be, and then, and only then, will they be considered equals in today's society.