An Impressive Success!!!
Without question the women of the U.S. Olympic team turned in a specular performance at the 2012 London Olympics. Their feats were even more remarkable when considering what they were able to collectively accomplish.
- Of the 5 world records established by the U.S. Olympians during the games all were set by female athletes. Highlighted by Rebecca Soni who broke her own world record in the 200 meter breaststroke.
- Female athletes contributed 55% of America’s total medals and 66% of the gold metals. Without women pulling more than their fair share, America would probably have finished a distant second behind China in the medal count.
- So dominant were the U.S. women that had they seceded to from the men and formed their own team, they would have been third in the medal count.
An impressive success indeed!!!
Our women did more than just kicked butt and took names in London; their extraordinary show of excellence provides three golden truths about gender equality. These golden truths show the power that gender equality has not only in sports but in every walk of life and what is possible when our nation lives up to the creed; “That all “men and women” are created equal”.
Golden Truth Number One: Leveling the Playing Field Works
There are many reasons why the U.S. women were dominant, but one very clear one is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year: Title IX. Title IX is a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972, mandating equality in college athletic and team sports for women.
Mary Jo Kane, director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, gave the legislation full marks in moving America toward dominance in women’s athletics. “Title IX has fundamentally altered the landscape of what it means to be female and an athlete,” said Kane. “In one generation, we’ve gone from girls hoping there is a team to girls hoping they make the team.”
Golden Truth Number Two: The Distinctive Advantage Women Provide the U.S. Economy
The United States Olympic Committee sent a total of 539 athletes 261 men 278 women to the Olympics in London to compete in 25 sports. For the first time in its history, the U.S. was represented by more female than male athletes at an Olympic event. 208 of our athletes won at least one medal and as documented earlier 66% of those metal winners were women
Women comprise 50.9% of the U.S. population. While countries we compete against like China have a higher number of females in their population the equal access to the tools of economic growth, education, jobs, and capital that the U.S. provides gives our nation a distinctive economic advantage. Because like our Olympic team when we fully engage our half our population –women, the entire country benefits. Data from the 2010 census provides strong evidence of the growing power of females in our economy
- 38% of women 25 and older now hold a bachelor’s degrees a full 10% higher than the corresponding number for men.
- 28% of all business are owned by women up from 10% from the 2000 census.
- 7.5 million people are employed by women owned businesses.
Golden Truth Number Three: There is More Work to be Done
Despite the splendid performance of the U.S. Women Olympians every athlete knows that there is much more work to do. Our women will be stiffly challenged in 2014 during the Sochi, Russia Winter Olympic Games. Nations envious of our female achievements will be gunning for the Americans in 2016 as the games will be staged in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
There is also more work to be done on the economic stage along with the economic gains by woman sighted in the 2010 census we find these nagging realities:
- Women earn 77.4 cents for every dollar earned by men
- Women currently hold 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions
- The unemployment rate for men dropped more than 1 percent between 2009 and 2011, while women’s unemployment rate rose about half a percent during that same time.
The Bottom Line
While there’s no question that women’s sports lag behind men’s in attendance and funding, the performance of our woman’s Olympic team proves that Title IX has helped transform the landscape of women’s athletics. In the two generations after its passage, it’s no longer considered unusual for a girl to play sports growing up; indeed, it’s become more unusual for girls not to play a sport. With more girls starting sports, more girls have the opportunity to learn that they like them, and the more girls who play sports as kids, the more women who excel at sports as adults.
However, the torch must be passed from success on playing field to equality in the pay envelope, achievement in the board room, and reduction of the female unemployment rate. If we can achieve this, the golden truth of the 2012 U.S. Woman’s Olympic team’s triumph will be a golden legacy of greatness for our country.
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