Gender Inequality in Sports at SU
Last semester, a campus wide email was sent out that most people ignored, if even opened. The Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) Survey was completed by Southwestern University, and the document is available for anyone to view, on request in these offices: Vice President for Strategic Recruitment and Enrollment, Vice President for Student Life / Dean of Students, Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, Associate Vice President for Athletics. It is also available online on the Southwestern website. In this report, the allotted budgets for all the sports, and how they are used is described, including average salaries.
Despite the population at Southwestern consisting of 55% female students, there is a large disparity in how women and men’s sports are treated. The disparity can be seen both in the report, monetarily, coaches representation, and in the reality that the female athletes experience consistently.
It is important to mention that in the time that this report was surveyed for, Dr. Glada Munt was the athletic director, and had been for 25 years before retiring this last December. In the EADA report for the 2018-2019 school year, the total number of female athletes was 157, while the number of male athletes at Southwestern was 308. This is a dramatic decline from 2001, when the female athletes outnumbered the male athletes. This may be partly due to football being installed at Southwestern, however the difference between male and female athletes in similar sports is still staggering. Men’s lacrosse had 10 more players than women’s lacrosse, men’s soccer had 13 more players than women’s, and football, the counterpart to volleyball, had 92 more players than women’s volleyball. Title nine is in place to ensure that to every men’s sport, there is an equal opportunity for women, in football’s case, this is volleyball. Football was only started 7 years ago, something that Glada Munt put into place.
The discrepancy in player numbers may be due to the difference in the money spent in recruiting for women’s and men’s sports. Men’s sports spent $76,720 on recruiting alone in the 2018-2019 school year while women’s sports spent only $24,174. That is a staggering $52,546 difference. When there is less money spent on recruiting, less players show up for each sport. According to Glenn Schwab, the Athletic Director as of January 1st, the allocated budgets are distributed at each coach’s discretion. So, the amount spent on recruiting is up to the coaches. In this report it shows that all men’s sports are coached by men, and all but three women’s sports are also coached by men. That is a 27:3 ratio of male to female head coaches. On top of that, the women’s teams coaches are paid on average $3,646 less than the coaches for the men’s teams. This already paints a picture of inequality in the sports department of SU on paper, but there is also the experience of the student athletes to take into account.
Seven years ago, when Dr. Munt started football back at Southwestern, a fieldhouse was also built to accommodate the players and their gear. This facility is top of the line with a weight room for athletes, a training room for the football players that is right next to the fields they play on, a 150 person conference room with projectors to go over pregame strategies, and an NFL level locker room and showers. The catch? Only men’s soccer, football, and lacrosse have access to the locker room, and have priority of the conference room. All of the women’s sports are in one locker room, a hike away from the fields that they play on. The locker room is old and extremely cramped with every sport in one room.
Not only do women’s sports lack a good locker space, but the stands at their games are much more empty than at men’s games. Even with the supporters from Church Lunch, there is a significant lack of fans at the women’s games overall compared to the men’s games. Some might point to this as a cause of the lack of funding in recruiting for women’s sports, but this is not the case. The budgets for recruiting are decided by each coach.
There is hope for gender equality in sports at Southwestern. The Director has seen that there is inequity and is attempting to do something about it, while only in his fifth week in that position.
“My focus is on the student athlete experience, and I want to build everything here around that experience,” Glenn says, “I want to be a champion for all students.”
He has identified the locker room situation as a problem and has already worked with a company, PBK Architects, to draw up designs to remodel the locker room, in the gym, as well as an add on to the fieldhouse so that there is a locker room for women’s sports. Not only are they looking to improve the locker room situation for women’s sports, but there are drawings in the works for a new softball field as well.
When asked about the women to men coaching ratio, and if he is going to try to hire more women head coaches, “Yes, the answer is yes, I have been saying that for a few years myself that this is an issue,” the director says “My associate athletic director that we are about to hire will be a woman. She will make sure that we are talking about women’s issues and every decision will have a female point of view.”
There have been many problems with inequity in the athletic department, but this new athletic director wants to solve these problems. He says that he does not just want to provide lip service, but to be a champion for women athletics in action as well as words.
The only way that things are going to keep getting better in the athletic department, as well as across campus, is if students show up and talk about what is wrong, and how it can be fixed. Without pressure from students and athletes, things may stay the same. It is up to students to push for change where they want it. Director Glenn Schwab was an athletic trainer before he was director, and he would hear directly from the students when things were not right. Glenn is happy to talk to any students, not just athletes, about any problems they want to talk to him about.
Glenn’s Email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can find the equity report for last year on the Southwestern website: https://www.southwestern.edu/faculty-dean/institutional-research/