Celebrating Women in Sports: A Look at Women’s History Month
March is Women's History Month, a time to recognize and honor the contributions of women in history. Women have made significant headway in the sports world, but there is still much work to be done to increase girls' access and opportunity in sports.
Women's sports have come a long way in recent years. Professional leagues are thriving with participation and gaining more viewership as years progress. Let’s talk about some noteworthy moments in 2022.
- Erin Johnson became the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal in speed skating with her time of 37.04 in the 500m.
- Also at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Alysa Liu became the first woman to land a quadruple lutz and a triple axel in the same program.
- The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the UConn Huskies welcomed 4.85 million viewers on ESPN, making it the most-watched women’s championship game since 2004.
- Serena Williams’ farewell match against Ajla Tomljanovic at the US Open became ESPN’s most-watched tennis event in the network’s 43-year history, drawing 4.6 million viewers.
There has also been a dramatic increase in the number of women involved in college and professional sports and in coaching and administrative roles. (insert growth stats)
- Women make up 43.7 percent of head coaches of NCAA D-I women’s teams in Select 7 conferences. Continuing the trend of increases over the past eight years.
- 70 percent of NCAA Division I women’s teams with women head coaches earned an A grade
- Participation in NCAA Women’s Championships sports increased 5 percent from the 2020-21 season to the 2021-22 season, the largest percentage increase for women since 2000-01.
Despite the progress that has been made, there is still much work to be done to increase access and opportunity to girls in sports. Participation rates for girls in youth sports has declined over the last decade, and female athletes continue to face gender-based disparities in terms of access to resources, financial support, and recognition. Additionally, girls are often discouraged from participating in sports due to cultural and social norms.
In order to increase access and opportunity to girls in sports, there needs to be more awareness and understanding of the gender disparities that exist in sports. We need to challenge the perception that boys sports are somehow “better” and create a more inclusive environment for girls in sports. It is also important to provide girls with the support and resources they need to succeed, such as access to quality sports facilities and equipment, mentors, and financial support.
Finally, we need to ensure that female athletes receive the same recognition and support as their male counterparts. We’ve seen this fight led by the US Women’s National Soccer and Hockey teams, WNBA players, Venus Williams, and many more. While we’ve seen progress, we know there is always more work to be done to help showcase women’s sports on the biggest possible stages.
We can all work together to ensure that girls have the same opportunities to participate in sports as boys. This Women's History Month, let's take a moment to recognize the progress that has been made in the sports world for women and commit to creating a more equitable and accessible playing field for all.