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Women Face Inequality in Sports

September 4, 2018

Inspiration and wisdom for women in sports, women in business and women caring about equality issues

As I watched the US Tennis Open this weekend on Billie Jean King Court, I wished I was watching a young up and coming female tennis player named Quinn Gleason. I heard about Quinn from her mother Cindy Constantino Gleason, a junior high school friend who swam with me and two other girls on the boys team when funding was cut for the girls team that year. I hadn’t seen Cindy in three decades and yet we embraced a couple weeks ago in Rochester at a women’s equality conference by fate. Little did we know as eighth graders we were feminists in our own way not backing down from the sport we loved but being confident enough to swim with the boys!

At our recent meeting, Cindy and I went from 15 year old girls to 50 year old women proudly talking about our children and careers. I shared the fact I had two sons one that played basketball and was a four year manager of the Boston College men’s team from 2010-2014 and the other one playing and managing the Syracuse University Men’s Club Lacrosse team for four years. Cindy told me about her daughter Quinn’s career high Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) singles ranking of 464 and a career high WTA doubles ranking of 260 in October 2017.

I shared with Cindy my goal of interviewing as many female athletes as I could from 1960 to 2018 to learn how they got involved in sports, what inequalities they have faced in their individual sports, what they would like to see changed in women’s sports and how to get more women in the stands at women’s sporting events. “It’s a PROJECT,” my friend Kathrine Switzer said to me after introducing me to some women at the Women’s Sports Foundation. Kathrine has been a running icon for women (and men) for 51 years and has been in my midst the past three years as a mentor and friend.

What I have found at during the interviews is women face inequality in most sports in many different ways most people don’t know about. I don’t think people should stay uninformed. The only way equality will ever be achieved for women across the landscape is shedding a spotlight on inequality issues every time we find one. I believe strongly women must support women to change the world and that includes in the sporting arenas.

The next time you are invited to attend a women’s sporting event or to cheer on your daughter, niece, granddaughter or neighbor remember women in sports need you supporting them!

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