The 1976 Yale Women’s Rowing Team.

This summer has seen women in sports make international headlines. From Becky Lynch becoming the first WWE superstar to grace the cover of ESPN Magazine to Coco Gauff’s remarkable run at Wimbledon it’s been a fascinating few months. The highlight for many was the women’s Soccer World Cup held in France. While the victorious USA team rightfully took major plaudits, it is also worth noting that live attendances for all matches were the highest of any Women’s World Cup. Millions more tuned in around the world proving that if given the platform there is massive interest in women’s sports.

The Thread podcast’s fourth season, “Let Us Play” focuses on the people and events that led to more girls being involved in sports in the United States. Episode three discusses the 1976 Yale Women’s Rowing team.

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Despite the passing of this act, not all schools and colleges implemented it. One of these colleges was Yale. It had a men’s and women’s rowing team, the men however were treated much better.

Despite the women’s team being more successful, they were stuck with old boats while the men had the most modern boats available. There were no shower facilities at the training complex so they would have to sit on a bus, cold and wet, while waiting for the men to shower. Sick of being treated this way the students decided to stage a protest. They wrote Title IX on each other before all 19 of them made their way to the office of the Director of Physical Education. Once in the office they removed their sweats and the team captain read from a prepared statement outlining their grievances. They then put back on their clothes and left the office.

News of the protest made the New York Times. None of the students were punished for their actions. The following year the a female locker room was added to the training area. The protest also had an impact on other colleges around the country which saw an improvement in how the female students were treated.

I would highly recommend season 4 of The Thread podcast to anyone with even a passing interest in sport. I’m Irish and was unfamiliar with a lot of the events and people that were discussed, however I found it incredibly inspiring to hear the stories of young women who fought for women to be equal in sport. It’s sad that all these years after Title IX was passed that women still have to fight.

-Michelle O’Brien
Contributing Writer
Girl Museum Inc.

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