Nancy Hogshead-Makar is a former Olympic gold medal swimmer. She is currently a gender-equity activist and professor at Florida Coastal School of Law.
Hogshead-Makar was the first women to receive an athletics scholarship to Duke.
NCAA: Do you think the current generation of athletes takes Title IX for granted?
Hogshead-Makar: I think in some ways they do take it for granted, and that’s a good thing that to them equity is just a give-in. Of course, we would be treated the same way that the men’s basketball or football team or baseball team is getting treated. Of course it would just be expected. So, I think that’s a really important expectation for them to have.
The bad thing is that if they don’t know the law, they may not know what a battle it has been over the 40 years to implement Title IX, particularly as it relates to athletics. I mean, it has been a non-stop struggle to try to achieve gender equity.
One of the things that has kept the law really strong is that so many people have had sports experiences, both men and women, and they want that for their daughters. So, that’s one thing that keeps the law strong, but if they don’t recognize that all stems from this statute that’s in Congress then we’re in trouble.
NCAA: Is Title IX still relevant?
Hogshead-Makar: Women right now are 43 percent of student-athletes, but 57 percent of the student body. So, clearly, we have a long way to go. Every single year, there is a $153,000,000 difference between male and female athletics scholarships. So, every decade that’s $1.5 billion. And, it’s important to remember that they’re not getting this because they are female.
We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.
NCAA: What role do men play in making sure Title IX remains relevant?
Hogshead-Makar: I think for a lot of men, having a daughter really changes how they see feminism and how they see women’s rights and they really want that for their daughter. They really want all those opportunities for their daughter.
One reason it’s important for men to get involved with Title IX is because sending the message out to other men that they’re supposed to be privileged and be treated better than their sisters is not a healthy message. It’s not going to be that way in the workforce. They’re going to have women who are bosses. They’re going to have women who are equals professionally. It just can’t be that they’re supposed to enjoy a different standard of treatment.
Richard Lapchick makes the point really well that you don’t have to be Jewish to be supportive of religious rights. You don’t have to be African-American to be supportive of racial equity. You don’t have to be a female to be opposed to gender violence or in favor of gender equity. I believe that firmly that everybody can take on those mantles.
NCAA: Why do we need to celebrate this anniversary?
Hogshead-Makar: What’s really different about this year as opposed to 35 is how much research has come out (over the last five years) of what it means not just to that girl to have a sports experience for the rest of her life, but what it has meant for our economy and our country.
We know now that sports actually causes education – it’s not just associated with it. When you take out the influence of the parents and the socioeconomic class group and all those other factors that also predict graduation rates, you’ll see that sports actually produces more graduation in young women. Girls actually go into nontraditional careers like engineering and law and medicine, and they’re in the workforce full-time.
So, sports produce more full-time employment. And, isn’t that what we want for our sons and daughters – that we give them wings and then they fly? It just further justifies the decision 100 years ago to merge athletics with education. We’re one of the only countries to do it this way, and what a good decision that was.
NCAA: What do you hope the documentary “Sporting Chance” will accomplish?
Hogshead-Makar: I hope the documentary will breed this global, much bigger picture of athletics, and we can see athletics as not just being about swimming back and forth in a pool, or around a track, or pushing a ball up a field or a court – that it is much more than that. It is a very important part of education.