Women and equality on the field
The successes of the female student-athletes at Cal State L.A. have been impressive. Here are some of the highlights:
They suit up in the gym, serve on the court and outrun some of the best around the track. They are Cal State L.A.’s women athletes—and they have been getting it done, winning matches and earning top accolades for decades.
Cal State L.A.’s female teams are powerhouses—clearly accomplished and skilled in the field of play. And their success is a reflection, in part, of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics’ commitment to creating opportunities for female student-athletes. University women compete in seven intercollegiate sports: basketball, cross country, soccer, tennis, volleyball, and outdoor and indoor track and field.
Credit is also due, athletes note, to Title IX and the individuals who helped make women’s equality a reality. Passed by Congress in 1972, Title IX is a section of the Educational Amendments that prohibits discrimination against girls and women in federally funded education, including athletic programs.
“Title IX has made such a huge impact for our female-student athletes, it’s definitely the biggest positive impact in our lifetimes,” said Cal State L.A. women’s volleyball head coach Randi Smart. “I know our student-athletes are very grateful for the opportunities they are being given to be a part of something so big.
“You’ve seen the number of female athletes grow tremendously and more and more of them are starting at younger ages. They are striving for better GPAs and working hard because they know of the opportunities that are now available to them.”
One of the women who helped pave the way for women’s equality and Title IX was Billie Jean King. King, who played tennis at CSULA from 1961-64, is a champion of gender equality issues, and the recent recipient of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom—the top American civilian honor. She also volunteers her time to help raise funds to support student-athlete scholarships through the annual Billie Jean King and Friends Event.
Since King’s days on campus and the passing of Title IX, Cal State L.A. has done even more to further its position as an institution of access and opportunity.
Today, more than 60 percent of the CSULA student-athletes are female. Systemwide, roughly 56 percent of student athletes were females in 2007—the latest year that information was available—compared with just 35 percent of student-athletes 15 years earlier.
“It’s been a tradition here at Cal State L.A. to support gender equity and it’s something we fully believe in,” said Cal State L.A. Director of Athletics Dan Bridges. “We’ve enjoyed many successes because of it.”