Are we finally seeing the results of the Title IX enactment? Title IX is a short and simple federal law: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity.” The law was passed in 1972 and those in education and the sports field thought that the door would be flung open and women and girls would finally secure their rightful place in education and sports. While we saw small, slow advancements over the past forty-three years, women have finally recently made their presence and skills known.
Jennifer Welter is a former football player who was recently hired by the National Football League to coach inside linebackers for the Arizona Cardinals. The signing made her the first female coach in NFL history.
The NFL continued to make history when it hired Sarah Thomas. Sarah, who is noted for being a pioneer in female officiating, was the first woman to officiate a major college football game, the first to officiate a bowl game, and the first to officiate in a Big Ten stadium. When she was hired this year by the League, she became the first full-time female official in NFL history.
Just last week, Major League Baseball made some history of its own when the Oakland A’s became the first Major League Baseball team to hire a female coach when they brought in Justine Siegel. In 2009, Siegal also became the first woman to be hired as a coach at any professional level, when she served as first-base coach for the Brockton Rox, an independent baseball team.
Becky Hammon was an All-Star and stand-out player in the WNBA when she played for the New York Liberty and the San Antonio Silver Stars. Her talents were noticed and she was hired this year as the assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs. To prove that she deserved the position, her team won the NBA’s Summer League championship.
Legendary basketball player and coach, Nancy Lieberman, kept pace with her fellow athletes by being hired as an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings of the NBA.
Violet Palmer is a referee in the NBA and WNBA and the first female official to reach the highest competitive tier in a major U.S. professional sport. She was also the first woman to officiate an NBA playoff game when she did so in the 2006 match between the Indiana Pacers and New Jersey Nets.
But Andy Murray, the third-ranked tennis player in the world, can claim he went first to help women break through that glass ceiling. In June 2014, he hired Amelie Mauresmo, a former world No. 1 and Olympic gold medalist, to be his coach. The only woman on the tennis circuit to coach a male player. As a result, he is one the best players in the world!
While we wait to see if the National Hockey League will follow suit, we will just sit back and enjoy the achievements these women have made. It’s a pity that it took over forty years to happen!