Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Celebrate the progress we've made: girls and women in sports

Twisted Girl  (SUKMA XII 2008, Terengganu)Image by Shutterhack via Flickr
Wednesday, Feb. 3 is National Girls and Women in Sports Day

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, female participation in college sports has increased 400 percent; female participation at the high school level more than 800 percent. 
Female athletes are more likely to develop positive school and lifestyle habits.  High school girls who participate in sports are less likely to experience an unintended pregnancy or to smoke or use illicit drugs, while they are more likely to have a positive body image than girls who don't play sports.
What fostered that increase? Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities. It is one of the country's greatest success stories and AAUW was instrumental in in its passage.
Despite the significant gains girls and women have made since its enactment  lack of data reporting presents a significant drawback to the law's enforcement at the high school level.  The U.S. Department of Education does not require high schools to make athletic opportunity, participation, and funding statistics publicly available, even though they already collect this data. It's estimated that female high school students have 1.3 million fewer opportunities to play high school sports than do male students. But nationally there's no way to know for sure.  
Colleges are required to report this data; it's time our high schools are, too. There are two things we can do:
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