Gender Barriers in Athletics

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Gender Barriers in Athletics 2. What are the social and cultural costs and benefits of an individual (male or female) entering a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex (eg women who enter body building, power lifting, boxing; men who enter synchronized swimming or field hockey)? Throughout history it is clear that not only women, but both genders have faced seemingly insurmountable barriers when attempting to break into a sport that is not "proper" or stereotypical for their gender to participate in. Though as a society we are making strides towards equality in sport, such as the advent of Title IX, it is clear that we still have a long way to go. Though breakthrough policies such as this are moving in the right direction, other evidence points towards the fact that as a society, we are still more comfortable with women in traditionally female sports such as field hockey as opposed to boxing, and men in traditionally male sports such as body building as opposed to synchronized swimming, since these activities fit with our preconceived notions of what is "normal" for a specific gender. Supporting this idea is the fact that though we seem to be moving towards equality in sport with many coeducational universities and colleges having sport opportunities for both sexes, funding is still extremely unequal, as states by the Women's Sports Foundation in 2001: But women and girl athletes have yet to reach parity with men. Women are still only about one-third of interscholastic and intercollegiate athletes. In addition, women college athletes receive less than 26% of college sports' operating budgets, and less than 28% of college recruiting money. Though as a society we are making progress towards equality, there is no way... ... middle of paper ... ...n of both sexes, as described below by Sandi Bittler, Director of women's sports marketing for Nike: It's not like when the boys used to play sports and the girls play with dolls. Now there is crossover in appeal. The first time I noticed it was in 1995 when I traveled with the women's national basketball team tour to 30 universities. For the first time I started seeing these female athletes touching younger kids and it didn't matter if it was a young boy or a young girl (http://www.reporternews.com/1999/features/sport0822.html). In this manner, it is clear that these athletes are taking strides towards equality by affecting the future of our society, youth. Though as a society we face many remaining obstacles in striving toward gender equality in sport, it is important to look at what has been accomplished, and also look to the future for what can still be done.
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