March Madness: Does It Pay To Let Women Play?
From 3/20/2014 @ 6:56 PM (this article is so relevant that we wanted to repost it.)
2014 marks the 33rd year of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship and 42 years since the enactment of Title IX. This weekend, 64 of the NCAA’s 332 Division I women’s basketball teams will compete in the 2014 tournament, or as die-hard basketball fans affectionately call it – March Madness.
But decades ago, March was not as maddening for women athletes.
Before 1972, female college athletes received only about 2% of overall athletic budgets. Women were not awarded athletic scholarships, the facilities and equipment were subpar, and television coverage was unheard of.
Today, roughly 48% of the athletic scholarship dollars and 40% of the money spent on athletics goes to women. While Title IX experts recognize women have not achieved complete gender equality, there’s no question that women’s basketball student-athletes are winning on and off the court.
In a study recently released by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida (UCF), the graduation rate for the women’s basketball teams competing in the 2014 NCAA tournament is 87% compared to 72% for the men. 21 of those women’s basketball teams have a 100% graduation rate. Additionally, over the last two years 98% of the women’s tournament teams graduated at least 50% of its athletes and 87% of the men’s teams achieved a 50% graduation rate.
“Women’s basketball student-athletes epitomize the balance that is needed to be a successful contemporary student-athlete,” said Dr. Richard Lapchick the director of TIDES and Chair of the DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program at UCF.
Does it pay to let women play?
According to the EY Women Athletes Business Network (WABN), a network connecting women athletes who seek meaningful careers outside of their sport with top women leaders and entrepreneurs around the world, and the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the answer is yes.
This month, a policy paper titled Women, Sports and Development: Does it Pay to Let Girls Play? commissioned by EY’s WABN, outlined the benefits of women and girls participating in sport. Specifically, “girls who play sports do better in school” and “on average, former college athletes earn a wage premium over others.” Moreover, “annual wages of former athletes, all other factors held constant, are on average about 7% higher than those of non-athletes.”
With these financial and academic benefits in mind, Beth Brooke, EY Global Vice Chair, Public Policy, is determined to inject more female leaders with a background in sport into the business sector using the EY WABN.
“We all know that there are too few women in leadership. There are so many incredible women athletes, but when you look at the elite or professional level sadly many of them have not pivoted into business. They see their options as either coaches, trainers, or broadcasters, but not an ability to pivot away from sport. So that was the genesis of the idea. We saw an opportunity to create more leaders in business,” said Brooke during EY’s WABN webcast Play to Win: Lessons from Women Athletes and Leaders.
More importantly, Brooke is speaking directly from personal experience; from 1977-1980 she was a women’s basketball player at Purdue University and holds the distinction of being Purdue’s first female recipient of a basketball scholarship.
Brooke and EY’s Global Chairman and CEO, Mark Weinberger, are working towards advancing women and building a better working world by assisting female athletes in their transition into the business sector. Together, they recognize, “female athletes are equipped to lead in a team environment. The qualities that define great athletes – teamwork, grit, and a passion to win also define great business leaders.”
So, where will accomplished female student-athletes go after the March Madness excitement ends? If Brooke and the EY WABN have say, they will go pro in something other than sports.
SportsMoney Reader Question: Do you believe that a background in sport is helpful to performance in business? Does it pay to play sports? Comment below.