Monday, January 29, 2007

A little too much Title IX praise

The student newspaper at Mississippi State University recently published an article on the benefits of Title IX. Amidst all the backlash from the JMU cuts, "mandated" cheerleading, and male practice players, the article was a nice change. The author interviewed administrators, coaches, and female athletes, all of whom expressed their unequivocal support for the legislation. (I have some issues with how representative these sentiments are of the entire campus population.)
Unfortunately the women's athletic director, Ann Carr, in lauding Title IX conveyed some misinformation about the "benefits" to female coaches, administrators, trainers, and others in positions of leadership. Here is the excerpt from the article:
Carr, a former MSU athlete, sees the changes that Title IX has brought between the time she played sports and the time she joined the faculty. She also pointed out that when she was an athlete, almost all of the staff in the athletic department were male, but that has changed.
"Because of Title IX, there are more female coaches, female athletic counselors, female trainers and female athletic directors," Carr said. "There are even female managers in sports you would never expect to see them in. Women are now learning and wanting to be in those areas."
I don't know when Carr was an athlete or the specific situation at MSU, but I do know that post-Title IX the number of female coaches dropped significantly (but more than hlaf in some sports) as did the number of administrators when formerly separate men's and women's athletic departments merged pushing most of the women out of their leadership positions.
Carpenter and Acosta talk about this phenomenon in their work. And other scholars have discussed it as one of the little known and little discussed drawbacks to Title IX.
And a little searching uncovers that Carr is not the women's athletic director--a title that suggests women's and men's athletic departments are still separate--but rather she is an associate AD and, probably by virtue of her position as the highest-ranking female administrator, is in charge of women's athletics. She still answers to the head AD.

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