Breaking the Boys Club is a series of profiles and Q&As with local women and girls involved in sports at all levels, from athletes to administrators. Each story in the series is written and photographed by women in the Missourian newsroom.
According to the Women's Sports Foundation, one in 27 girls played sports before the passage of Title IX in 1972. Since then, women's participation in sports has grown.
WSF says that today, two in five girls participate in sports. The 2012 Summer Olympics in London marked the first time that there were an equal number of sports for men and women at the Games. Women are also working in sports in increasing numbers and in high-profile positions.
In 2014, Becky Hammon became the first full-time female assistant coach in the NBA. In 2018, she became the first woman to interview for an NBA head coaching job.
In 2015, Sarah Thomas became the first full-time female referee in the NFL. In 2019, she became the first woman to officiate an NFL playoff game.
Also in 2015, Jessica Mendoza became the first female analyst on a nationally televised MLB postseason game. In September 2017, Doris Burke was the first female to be given a regular spot as an NBA analyst after 27 years in the business.
Progress is being made and women are becoming more involved in athletics. Still, there is a long way to go.
According to UN Women, the prize money given to athletes for the last Women’s Soccer World Cup was $15 million. For the men, it was $576 million.
The pay gap between the NBA and the WNBA is a growing topic of conversation in sports. The maximum salary for WNBA players is $115,000. Entry-level NBA referees make $150,000. Professional women's basketball players earn less than 25 percent of the revenue the WNBA generates. Men receive about 50 percent of NBA revenue.
None of these numbers conveys the lack of respect some have for female athletes or the hateful messages that women working in and playing sports receive.
This series highlights the stories of women and girls in Columbia who are leaders and difference-makers in their sports, while giving female journalists the opportunity to tell those stories.