NCAA Gender Inequity Cuts Deeper Than Just Weight Room Issues at Tournament

A girl holding an NCAA Division-I Final Four trophy from 2017 smiles, surrounded by her teammates.

Gender disparity in the NCAA? We’re shocked! Flabbergasted! Just kidding. Not shocked at all. Still, the degree of inequality that came to light during the 2021 NCAA basketball tournaments was a little startling. Newsweek sports editor Scott McDonald details the situation in this March 2021 report.

Read it here.


1. McDonald reports on gender disparity in the 2021 NCAA basketball tournaments and in the NCAA in general, and nobody can be very surprised to learn that the treatment of women’s and men’s athletics is highly unequal. In addition to the weight room differences, what other evidence does McDonald present to demonstrate the inequalities? Is the evidence persuasive? Why or why not?

2. In his report, McDonald includes extensive quotations from public statements by two prominent women’s coaches, Muffet McGraw and Dawn Staley, angrily criticizing the NCAA. Why might McDonald have chosen to omit any statements by NCAA officials? Why do you think so? Should McDonald have included responses from the NCAA? Why or why not?

3. LET’S TALK. We hear a lot about what the NCAA should do, and certainly, the organization bears the major responsibility for correcting the deeply entrenched gender inequity in college sports. What about our part, as individuals, as students and community members, perhaps as athletes or fans? What, if anything, should we be doing? What could we be doing? What is your personal role in the situation? Player/athlete? Fan? Ticket taker at the stadium? Cheer squad? Completely uninterested in anything sports-related? Whatever your role or attitude, reflect on these questions yourself and then explore them with a few classmates. Do any ideas emerge that might launch action, either individually or with others? 

4. LET’S WRITE. What athletics programs does your school offer? In which sports? What kind of athletics and exercise facilities are available to members of specific teams and to students in general? And more specifically, how do the offerings differ by gender? Write a report detailing what you find about women’s, men’s, and gender-unspecified programs. Use data and statistics from your school website and library, and also include interviews with two or more relevant people—student athletes, coaches, administrators, or others.  

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