The Issues of Women in Sport
Race, gender, history and sexual orientation play major roles in women's participation in sport. Through out the history of women in sport, opportunity has increased. Many athletes and coaches are presented with the issue of sexual orientation throughout their sporting career. Regardless of sexual orientation, all female athletes are affected by heterosexism. One's racial or ethnicity background greatly shapes the experience they may have in sport. This essay explores the many issues women in sport face today.
Historically, it has been understood that the "natural order of the universe" consisted of man to the marketplace, woman at home with her family, woman the mistress of domesticity, man the master of all else, man the rational thinker, woman the guardian of morals, man dominant, and woman subordinate. The injection of equality between the two genders challenged the foundation of the social order. Women's sports in the late 1800's focused on correct posture, facial and bodily beauty, and health. In 1916 the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) holds its first national championship for Women. In 1919, Suxanne Lenglen shocks Wimbledon in triumph in a dress that exposes her arms and lower legs. In 1925 Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel, breaking the existing record by more than two hours. In 1932, Babe Didrkson sets the world record in three track and field competitions. Amelia Earhart disappears over the South Pacific in her round-the-world flight in 1937. In 1949 the LGPA is established. Marcinia (Toni) Stone is the first woman to break gender barrier when signed to the Negro American League Team in 1953. In 1960 gender verification testing for women was enforced at international sport competitions. The first five-person full court play is adopted in women's basketball in 1971. In 1972 Title IX is passed creating opportunities for girls and women to participate in sport. In 1973 Billy Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs in the "battle of the sexes" tennis match. In 1973 the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) awards the first academic scholarships to women athletes at the collegiate level. Jackie Joiner-Kersee sets the new heptathlon world record and wins a second gold medal in the long jump in 1988. In 1991 Judith Sweet becomes the first woman president of the NCAA. Soccer and softball make it into the Olympic debut in 1996. In 1997 professional basketball debuts with the WNBA and ABL. In 1999 the U.S. Women's Soccer team defeats China for the World Cup win in a record seating of 90,185 people (Cohen, viii).
Gender role is defined as the socially constructed and culturally specific behavior and appearance expectations imposed on women (femininity) and men (masculinity). Many girls are subjected to gender role stereotyping and different treatment Through socialization, individuals learn to behave in accordance with the expectations of others in the social order...