Commemorating the Title IX’s 40th anniversary year, the NCAA published a report on the status of women in college athletics. Authored by Amy Wilson, the report focuses on three areas: participation opportunities, resource allocation, and leadership opportunities. Regarding participation, the report provides current data on the exponential rise on women’s college and high school opportunities in the last 40 years. While women now have over 191,000 athletic opportunities at the college level, up from 64,000 30 years ago, women’s opportunities amount to 43% of the total, despite the fact that women constitute a 54% majority of college undergraduates overall. This graph from the report provides a nice visual aid to help refute any suggestion that women’s lack of interest in sports is the reason for this gender gap. Over 3 million women play high school sports, so a pool of potentially interested and qualified recruits would clearly support the addition of new collegiate opportunities for women.
The report also contains participation data broken down by division, and includes data on diversity as well.
In terms of resource allocation, the report demonstrates that a gender gap persists in this area as well. Universities in the Football Bowl Subdivision of Division I spend 2.5 times as much on men’s sports than women’s, and men’s sports receive the lion’s share of resources in other divisions as well. In every division, women’s share of resources was closer to equitable in schools without football.
Lastly, in terms of leadership opportunity, the report confirms that the gender gap among college coaches still persists. The only good news in this area is that at least this gap seems to be holding steady, rather than widening in recent years, according to data cited from Carpenter & Acosta’s longitudinal study.
Women comprise 19% of college athletic directors, up 3% from data collected 15 years ago. The gap in leadership is even wider for minority women.
In all, the report shows progress but persistent gender inequality in college sports, confirming the pervasive view among Title IX advocates, that the law’s 40th anniversary provides an opportunity not only to celebrate, but also to take stock of how much more remains to do.