Saturday, May 12, 2012

Title IX at 40 Conference Concludes


After three days of engaging discussions and lectures, the Title IX at 40 Conference concluded yesterday. Sponsored by the SHARP Center for Women and Girls at the University of Michigan and the Women’s Sports Foundation, the Conference fostered an interdisciplinary dialogue between scholars, activists, athletes, lawyers, athletic administrators, teachers and students.

Despite the diversity of presenters’ and attendees’ backgrounds, a few themes reappeared during the conference. Perhaps the most prominent was that we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go in regards to gender equity. 

Another prominent theme was education. Valerie Bonnette, a TitleIX specialist, consistently with other speakers, emphasized the need to “educate, educate, and educate” about Title IX. The call for spreading knowledge about the law derives primarily from the misconceptions, most specifically the myth that Title IX caused/causes cuts in men’s sports. 

Numerous speakers, including Dr.Christine Grant, former women’s athletic director at the University of Iowa, displayed numbers that indicate: participation for men has actually grown. Men’s sports did not get cut because of Title IX, but because of “allocation of resources,” Grant explained. 

Judy Sweet, former NCAA Senior Vice President, confirmed stating that sports get cut “not because of Title IX, but because of institutional priorities.”

The conference addressed a variety of issues related to Title IX including youth sports, injury prevention, employment, men’s experiences, media coverage and diversity. 

Faculty from Penn State contributed to the conference with their research and expertise. Nancy Williams from the Department of Kinesiology gave a talk titled “Sport Involvement, Health Risks, and the Female Athlete Triad.” 

John Cheslock from the Center for the Study of Higher Education addressed financial challenges in athletics. Cheslock said that the “Title IX Blame Game” is based on the assumption that Title IX is the “primary cause of major reductions” in men’s sports. 

Cheslock pointed out the importance of considering other factors which play a role in institutional decisions such as high schools in the area, cost, risks, and international student presence. He also called for a disaggregation by institution type. Cheslock said that commercially successful institutions are “rare species” as most athletic programs are not sustainable. 

The John Curley Center for Sports Journalism was represented by Marie Hardin, Associate Dean of the College of Communications. Hardin shared research conducted by the Curley Center addressing the relationship between media producers, gender and Title IX coverage. 

Hardin explained that the “zero-sum” framing of Title IX is problematic because the legislation is understood as conflict. “When frames trump facts, ideology gains traction,” Hardin said. 

Currently, women make up approximately 10% of sports reporters, sports bloggers and sports information departments. While we need more women in sports departments, increasing the number of women who enter sports journalism is hardly sufficient. 

“Women will go into sports news departments, but they won't be valued until we value women's sports in our society,” Hardin said. 

You can find more information about the conference at the following sites: 

-        - For a list of all speakers, topics and photos click here and visit the conference website.
-        - For a play-by-play, go to the Curley Center’s Twitter feed @CurleyCenter #TitleIXConference
-         - For videos of keynote speakers Laila Ali, Amy Berman, James Delany and Bernice Sandler click here

To find Title IX related information, visit the SHARP Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, the National Women’s Law Center, and Title IX Blog, among others. 

For updates from the Curley Center, check back to this blog and follow us on Twitter.

--Dunja Antunovic

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Title IX at 40: A Day with a Legendary Line-up


The Title IX at 40 Conference at the University of Michigan continued with a vibrant conversation between scholars, Olympic athletes, administrators and attorneys.

Amy Berman from the Office for Civil Rights launched today’s conversation with her insights into Title IX related issues. She began by emphasizing that Title IX, though usually associated with sports, has had tremendous impact on other areas in education such as offering protection against harassment, bullying and sexual violence.

These issues and incidents, however, often remain unreported. Berman pointed out that students need to be provided information on who to contact when such instances occur so that they get reported.

“These things cannot get lost,” Berman said.

The panels throughout the day addressed various issues ranging from Title IX’s relationship to health benefits and injuries to employment and workplace discrimination. A number of Gold Medalist Olympic Athletes were participating in the panels including figure skater Sarah Hughes and softball player Jennie Finch.

Jim Delaney, Big Ten Commissioner, spoke about the Big Ten Conference’s Gender Equity Action Plan and the progress the Big Ten has made in regards to opportunities and funding for intercollegiate athletics, particularly highlighting the points where the Conference demonstrated equitable treatment of men and women.

The day was closed by the legendary Dr. Bernice B. Sandler, frequently referred to as the “godmother of Title IX,” who shared the stories about the efforts it took to bring Title IX into legislation. Her journey began when she was denied a job because she was “too strong for a woman.”

Dr. Sandler’s stories of discrimination were absurd to the point that the audience members responded with a chuckle; yet the issues are still quite prevalent and Dr. Sandler called for the younger generations to continue gathering, educating, and organizing around Title IX and gender equity.

The conference concludes tomorrow with a number of panels, two of which feature Penn State scholars. John Cheslock from the Center for the Study of Higher Education will be speaking about issues of sustainability in intercollegiate athletics.

The College of Communications will be represented by Marie Hardin, Associate Director for Research at the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, who will serve on the Journalists, Media and Title IX panel. Joining her will be Nicole LaVoi from the University of Minnesota and Joanne C. Gerstner, a journalist from espnW.com and The New York Times.

The program begins on Friday at 8:30am (ET). Tune in on twitter @CurleyCenter #TitleIXConference!

--Dunja Antunovic

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Laila Ali Opens Title IX Conference


The Title IX at 40 Conference at the University of Michigan began tonight with Laila Ali's keynote address.

Ali, the President of the Women's Sports Foundation, talked about role of sports in her life emphasizing the many positive benefits of participation, such as self-confidence, teamwork, discipline and better health.

Because of these benefits, Ali said "there is no reason for women not to be competing."

While the opportunities for women in sports have been increasing, Ali pointed out that the fight is still not over. For instance, the assumption that Title IX takes away opportunities from men is still quite prevalent, though inaccurate. Referencing NCAA studies, Ali said "when women's opportunities rise, so do men's."

Prior to Ali, Dr. Katherine Babiak and Dr. Carol Boyd, codirectors of the SHARP Center for Women and Girls, welcomed the attendees. Babiak said that the purpose of the conference is not only to reflect upon the lasting impact of Title IX, but also to create a call for action.


The program continues on Thursday and Friday with panels, poster presentations and discussion.

For more information, visit the Title IX at 40 Conference website and follow the Curley Center on Twitter @CurleyCenter #TitleIXConference.

-- Dunja Antunovic


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Conference for Title IX


As a part of a continuing commemoration of Title IX, the SHARP Center for Girls and Women at the University of Michigan is hosting a three day conference in Ann Arbor with a mission to “co-create an agenda for future research intended to fulfill the promise of this important legislation.”

The “Title IX at 40: Progress and Equity for All” conference begins today at 5pm (ET) with a keynote by Laila Ali, President of the Women’s Sports Foundation and will continue through Friday afternoon with panels, poster presentations, round table sessions and lectures. The conferencewill welcome athletes, coaches, administrators, policy makers and educators for a transdisciplinary discussion about the law and its impact on sports.

Among them is Marie Hardin, Associate Director of Penn State’s John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, who has been invited to participate on the Journalists, Media, and Title IX panel. Her talk titled “Women Covering Sports: Why it Matters” will be held on Friday, May 11, at 11:15am.

Earlier on Friday, another Penn State researcher, John Cheslock from the Center for the Study of Higher Education, will be addressing participation trends and financial challenges in intercollegiate athletics.

You can find the detailed program here.

The Curley Center will provide daily recaps from the conference on this blog. To follow the conference “live,” check out the Center’s Twitter account: @CurleyCenter #TitleIXConference

-- Dunja Antunovic