Women, the NCAA and Equality: Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

Women have made significant advancements in society as of late.

Just in the U.S. alone, we have a female vice president and more women ever before in elected positions. There have been three women in the last two years who have won the Nobel Peace Prize for contributing to science. Brazil, Sierra Leone, Australia, England, Norway and New Zealand have committed to equal pay for women soccer players. There are even 17 countries that are working on gender equality sustainable development goals slated to be in place by the year 2030. 

With all of these steps forward, it is a shame that on the last days of Women’s History Month this year, where we (men and women) should be celebrating women’s accomplishments throughout history, we are looking in the face another example of gender disparity.

The NCAA, the organization set up to ensure all athletes are treated equally, has shown a blatant disregard for the women's March Madness tournament by the lack of attention, recognition and amenities given to the women’s division one teams.

See the disparities for yourself. The following links provide photos that speak volumes.

  • Sabrina Lonescu, Oregon women's basketball player, shares a women's weight room vs. one for men.
  • Dan Henry shares a contrast of men's swag vs. women's swag
  • Chloe Pavlech shares a look at women's food vs. what men receive. 

The most egregious act was making female coaches who have newborns, and are still breastfeeding, count their child toward the total number of people that can come to the tournament. As a result, these coaches will have to choose between bringing their respective child or another coach or trainer.

The way the women in this tournament have been treated is disgraceful. The only positives from this are that the NCAA favoritism toward men’s sports has now been brought into the light — and they have hopefully realized their actions are being watched through social media.

You may be saying, “This just happens in women’s sports!” — but that is not the case! It is a microcosm of the bigger picture of gender disparity in the world still today.

And yes, this has an impact not only on women. It impacts all of us and our economy. The UN Women, an entity of the United Nations that is dedicated to gender equality, has shared research showing that greater gender equality boosts economic growth and leadership outcomes. It contributes to the reduction of income inequality and promotes economic diversification, which creates economic resilience.

So, what can we do to support gender equality?

  • Make sure all women worldwide get a similar education
  • Train and support women in leadership; UN Women states that organizations with women in senior leadership roles show an increase in effectiveness, growth and performance for their respective organizations
  • Support families at work by offering flexibility and understanding

Yes, women have made significant advancements in society as of late. But it’s still two steps forward and one step back. And we can do better.



Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports 


Women, U. (n.d.). Facts and figures: Economic empowerment. Retrieved March 26, 2021, from https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/economic-empowerment/facts-and-fi…


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