ERIC Identifier: ED367660
Publication Date: 1994-04-00
Author: Priest, Laurie - Summerfield, Liane M.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.
Promoting Gender Equity in Middle and Secondary School Sports
Programs. ERIC Digest.
Sports equity is important at the middle and secondary school levels, not
only to increase opportunities for young women in sports and physical activity,
but to change perceptions--particularly the incorrect perception that sports
participation is not important for girls and women. This Digest will provide
background information about gender equity as well as specific strategies for
achieving equity at the middle and secondary school levels.
WHAT IS GENDER EQUITY
Gender equity may have many different
meanings within the various academic and nonacademic programs offered by a
school. In sports, gender equity "describes an environment in which fair and
equitable distribution of overall athletic opportunities, benefits, and
resources is available to women and men and in which student-athletes, coaches,
and athletics administrators are not subject to gender-based discrimination. An
athletics program is gender equitable when either the men's or women's sports
program would be pleased to accept as its own the overall program of the other
gender" (National Collegiate Athletic Association, 1993, p. 1).
THE LEGAL BASIS FOR GENDER EQUITY IN SPORT
Title IX of the
Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits institutions that receive federal funding
from gender discrimination in educational programs or activities. Because almost
all schools receive federal funds, Title IX applies to nearly everyone.
Although it was not written specifically for sports programs, Title IX
resulted in an immediate increase in female sports participants. From 1971-80,
the number of female athletes at the high school level increased 616%, with
females accounting for approximately 35% of high school athletes in 1980 (Title
IX, 1993). Today, girls still account for about 35% of high school athletes,
although at 1.9 million participants the number of females in sports at the high
school level has never been higher (National Federation, 1994).
MONITORING GENDER EQUITY IN MIDDLE AND SECONDARY SCHOOL
Within the past year, a number of Title IX lawsuits have
highlighted the vulnerability of colleges and universities to claims of gender
discrimination in intercollegiate athletics. There is no reason to assume that
middle and secondary school programs are immune to litigation. Between 1981 and
1991, 411 complaints involving elementary and secondary school athletics were
filed with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, which
oversees compliance with Title IX (Goldman, 1991). The 1992 decision of the
Supreme Court affirming monetary damages to be awarded in Title IX enforcement
actions increases the likelihood of lawsuits.
In sports programs, gender equity requires that equal athletic opportunities
be provided for both genders and encompasses the following areas, which are
further described below: accommodating the athletic interests and abilities of
the historically underrepresented sex (including the selection of sports and
levels of competition); equipment and supplies; scheduling; opportunity to
receive coaching (and academic tutoring); assignment and salary of coaches (and
tutors); travel and per diem allowances; locker rooms, medical, and other
facilities; housing and dining facilities and services; and publicity and
promotion. "Title IX Toolbox" (National Association of Girls and Women in
Sports, 1992) and "Playing Fair" (Women's Sports Foundation, 1992) are sources
of additional information.
Funding. Equal aggregate funding for boys' and girls' individual sports
programs is not required, nor is it required that expenditures for specific
sports be equal, but schools must provide necessary funding so that the quality
of the girls program equals that of the boys. Disparity in girls' and boys'
total sports funding is a strong indicator of inequality in program
opportunities. Revenue-producing sports are not exempt from the law.
Equipment and Supplies. These include but are not limited to uniforms and
other apparel, sport-specific and general equipment and supplies, instructional
devices, and conditioning/weight-training equipment. Equivalence is measured by
such factors as quality, amount, suitability, maintenance and replacement, and
availability of equipment and supplies. For example, if new uniforms are
purchased for the boys' soccer team every 2 years, the same schedule of uniform
replacement must be afforded the girls' program. If the booster club purchases
jackets for the boys' basketball team every year, jackets must also be purchased
annually for the girls' team, even if the girls' jackets have to be purchased
through the athletic department budget.
Scheduling Practices and Contests. Equivalence is measured by such factors as
the number, length, and time of day of practice opportunities; the number and
quality of competitive events and the time of day these are scheduled; and
opportunities for preseason and postseason competition. Prime practice time must
be shared equally.
Travel and Per Diem Allowances. Equivalence is measured by factors such as
the modes of transportation, housing furnished during travel, length of stay
before and after competitive events, per diem allowances, and dining
arrangements. Food allowances must be equal for boys and girls, and if special
pregame meals are provided for boys, they must also be available for girls. If
an overnight stay is required, rooming arrangements must be of equal quality,
and numbers of students per room must be equal.
Coaching. Regarding assignment of coaches, equivalency is determined by
comparing such factors as training, experience, and professional qualifications
and professional standing. Regarding compensation, equivalence is determined by
comparing such factors as pay rate, length of contracts, conditions of contract
renewal, experience, coaching duties, working conditions, and other terms and
conditions of employment. Coaches with similar contractual expectations should
be paid equally, whether the coach is responsible for the boys' or girls' team.
Qualified coaches must be hired for both boys' and girls' teams.
Locker Rooms and Other Facilities. Equivalence is measured by such factors as
the quality and availability and exclusivity of use of practice and competitive
facilities, the availability and quality of locker rooms, the maintenance of
practice and competitive facilities, and the preparation of facilities for
practices and competition. Practice and contest facilities must be comparable,
and girls may not be relegated to facilities of lesser quality.
Medical and Training Facilities and Services. Equivalence is measured by such
factors as the availability of medical personnel and assistance; health,
accident, and injury insurance coverage; the availability and quality of weight
training and conditioning facilities; and the availability and qualifications of
athletic trainers. It is recognized that certain sports carry a greater risk for
injury, but injuries are not gender based, so medical care must be of equal
quality, as appropriate for each particular sport. Publicity. Equivalence is
measured by such factors as the availability and quality of sports information
personnel, access to other publicity resources, and the quality and quantity of
publications and other promotional devices. For example, if a media guide is
published for the boys' basketball team, a media guide of equal quality must be
prepared for the girls' team.
Sports Opportunities. Because demand for specific sports may vary between
boys and girls, sports equity does not necessarily mean that numbers of teams
must be equal. However, when the historically underrepresented gender (females)
has the interest and ability for a particular sport, whether contact or
noncontact, this interest must be accommodated. Girls should have similar
opportunities for participation in a variety of sports (i.e., team versus
individual, contact versus noncontact) in all seasons. There can be
gender-separate teams or physical education classes for contact sports (e.g.,
wrestling, boxing, rugby, ice hockey, football, basketball) where there is a
high probability of body contact.
Although sports for girls and women have made
great strides in the past 20 years, it is clear that equality does not exist.
For example, in his report on the status of interscholastic sports equity in
Minnesota, Dildine observes that, "the data does make unequivocally clear that
athletic programs for boys and girls are not equal. There are more, and more
varied sports offerings for boys, more money spent on boys athletics, and more
money spent per participant for boys athletics" (Dildine, 1992, p. 3-4).
For schools to be in compliance with Title IX, they must address and correct
inequalities without delay. The law requires schools to designate and publish
the name and school address of an employee to coordinate compliance with Title
IX. Schools should also conduct a self-study, considering the areas outlined
above and involving school personnel, parents, and students. In a school that
complies with Title IX, either the boys or girls sports program would be pleased
to accept as its own the program of the other.
References identified with an EJ or ED number
have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. Journal articles (EJ) should
be available at most research libraries; documents (ED) are available in ERIC
microfiche collections at more than 700 locations. Documents can also be ordered
through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service: (800) 443-ERIC.
Dildine, R. A. (1992). A report to the Minnesota legislature concerning
interscholastic athletic equity in Minnesota high schools. Minneapolis:
Minnesota State Office of the Attorney General. ED 355 180
Goldman, J. P. (1991). Leveling the playing field for female athletes. School
Administrator, 48(10), 20-25. EJ 437 495
National Association of Girls and Women in Sport [NAGWS]. (1992). Title IX
toolbox. Reston, VA: Author.
National Collegiate Athletic Association [NCAA]. (1993, May 14). Preliminary
report from the NCAA gender-equity task force. Overland Park, KS: Author.
National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHSA). (1994). 93-94
National Federation handbook. Kansas City, MO: Author.
Title IX: 21 years of progress? (1993, Spring). Women in Sport and Physical
Activity Journal, 2(1), 73-79.
Women's Sports Foundation. (1992). Playing fair: A guide to gender equity in
high school and college sports. East Meadow, NY: Author.