SEATTLE ( Associated Press) — Jeannie Gilder didn’t really understand what Title IX meant until she was a freshman at Yale, rowed for the rowing team, and took part in one of the most famous protests against the law.
In 1976, WNBA club co-owner Seattle Storm was right in the middle of Yale Strip to protest the unfair treatment of male and female rowers at the school.
“What happened to me personally, I always say… that experience radicalized me,” Gilder said. “Because I grew up in New York, on the Upper East Side. I was from Park Avenue, a private school student. I mean, if you want to talk about privilege, that’s me. So that was the first time I faced discrimination.”
As Title IX celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Gilder is one of countless women who have benefited from the passage and enforcement of the law and have used those opportunities to become leaders in their professional careers.
Participation in this demonstration awakened Gilder Drive. This helped her to become an Olympic silver medalist in rowing at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. This helped her build a successful business career as an investor and philanthropist. It also helped Gilder to accept her sexuality in the late 1990s.
She is now part of the ownership group that acquired Storm in 2008 and has kept the franchise stable in her hometown.
“I think a lot of what I’ve learned in the business world is that you have to go for what you want and not what you want as a personal matter but in terms of your vision. peace and change. you want to do,” Gilder said. “And, of course, that was the experience that I got from becoming an athlete.
“But it was really an experience that I learned from this protest,” added Gilder. sleeves.”
Gail Coziara Boudreau has also used her competitive spirit to succeed off the basketball court.
The career and rebounding leader at Dartmouth has been the CEO of the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield since 2017.
Boudreau, a three-time Ivy League Player of the Year and a four-time Ivy League shot put champion, said there have historically not been many female executives and quite a few former athletes among those who have been. .
“If you look at a lot of us, we really have sports experience at different levels,” Boudreau said. “And I think that fuels competitiveness and our fearlessness to take on challenges and not be afraid to step in, you know, step in and play the game.”
Boudreau believes that with Title IX opening up more opportunities for women as a result of increased participation at all levels, from youth sports to college, the number of female leaders will inevitably increase and level the corporate playing field. This is one of the reasons Boudreau took up a coaching position at her alma mater along with an investment in her company.
“I think it’s important for us to repay what helped us pay up front and also be an important, socially responsible company in the community,” Boudreau said.
Jackie McWilliams knows firsthand what doors can be opened when someone is given the opportunity.
She is the first black woman commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. McWilliams has also been on the NCAA Gender Equality Task Force since 2016. She previously led the NCAA championships for nine years.
McWilliams was the Hamptons Conference Basketball and Volleyball Player of the Year. She feels it is her duty to give back to the pipeline that has given her so much.
“As a commissioner,” McWilliams said, “I have access to a lot of things, the platform is in power, and I think it’s pretty humiliating that I actually have a place where I can promote others, that I can stand up for. in rooms that some might never get into, even as a black woman.”
McWilliams and others along the way have fought many battles and understand that there is still much to be done. Over the past 50 years, the struggle for this equality has taken many forms.
McWilliams cited social media posts pointing out the tie issues in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
“I don’t think it’s time now that we can’t invest anymore … just like we’ve done in the past,” McWilliams said.
For Gilder, that meant channeling her passion into making the WNBA a thriving business for both the team she owns and the league as a whole. She is also an advocate for growth and change in her league.
“It’s a huge recognition that the WNBA and of course the Storm offer an authentic expression for any individual or company that cares about diversity, fairness (and) inclusion,” Gilder said. “Our league would not exist without Title IX. It is natural for us to advocate for social change.
“It’s not something we do in our spare time,” she added. “We are, and the culture has changed a bit to support that and recognize how important it is.”
But Gilder notes that bias is still prevalent in society. She said that while it’s not as open as it used to be before the law was passed, it is so that justice needs to continue to be pursued.
“You have to normalize the way people think about things, and it’s gradual,” Gilder said. “But you do it enough one by one, it starts to become a wave. It’s like any change. And at some point, everything starts to turn over, and what seemed like a radical idea is accepted as the status quo.
Associated Press Sports columnist Teresa M. Walker contributed to this report.
To learn more about the impact of Title IX, see the full Associated Press Pack: https://apnews.com/hub/title-ix Video timeline: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdgNI6BZpw0
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