For folks who like basketball, this month has brought March Madness. The greatest part of March Madness for me has been the women’s basketball teams. I grew up playing half court because women were supposedly too weak to run the full court. I played guard so I never learned to shoot anything but free throws.
Today, women’s games are thrilling. Anyone who watched to the Baylor/ Notre Dame Final had to feel angst when Baylor’s top player, Lauren Cox was taken off the floor in a wheel chair. No one who appreciates sports wants to see a top athlete injured. Of course, Baylor’s chances to win sunk with their key player gone. The Baylor Women Bears rallied in the last minutes of the game to pull out an exciting win. That’s what team sports is all about finding the combination to bring home the win.
Possibly the most important two minutes in this year’s women’s basketball season was when Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame's Women’s Coach, talked about why she would only hire women’s coaches. She gave a short history of equal rights pointing out that Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in 1967, and it still hasn't passed.
In 1972, when Title IX enacted gender equity policies in student athletics about 90 percent of women's teams in college sports had female coaches. These coaches had to scarp for equipment sometimes stealing from men’s locker rooms and beg players to join their teams because they didn’t have scholarships. As women’s sports have become more prestigious and pay for women’s college coaches has increased into the six figures, the number of women coaches has drastically decreased. Sixty percent of Division 1 basketball coaches are now men. McGraw noted that in men’s basketball 99% of the jobs go to men. Why is there outcry when she suggests that 99% of the jobs in women’s basket ball should go to women?
I had already been pondering the lack of women coaches before McGraw's viral spleen. I attended the Big Sky Basketball Playoffs in Boise this year. The women’s games were exciting, but I noticed how almost all the coaches were male. There were assistant female coaches but only one female coach.
McGraw is right. Women’s progress in all areas of leadership in our country has been extremely slow. We are still having lots of firsts when it should be common place for a woman to be viewed as not only an appropriate leader, but the best leader for the job.