An athletic program can be viewed as gender equitable when the participants in both female and male sports programs accept the overall program of the other gender as fair. No person must be discriminated on the grounds of institutional affiliation, nationality, or gender in intercollegiate athletics (United States Department of Justice, 2012). The NCAA plays a crucial role in ensuring fair treatment of all student athletes and staff. The association achieves this through an inclusive culture that promotes equitable participation of student-athletes and equal career opportunities for coaches and administrators from different backgrounds. An athletic director is responsible for developing a gender equity plan for the athletic department. He or she can achieve this by assessing the EADA report of the athletic department. In this case, this paper will assess the EADA report of the University of Georgia in discussing the main considerations undertaken. In addition, the paper will also discuss the appropriate strategies and steps to be deployed in the process of developing a gender equity plan.
Key Considerations in the Development of a Gender Equity Plan
The first key issue to consider in the development of a gender equity plan is the legal aspect. Most institutions can achieve this by adhering to the NCAA constitution. According to the United States Department of Justice (2012), the constitution comprises of two important principles that athletic directors need to consider in the development of an equity plan. The first one is compliance with the federal and state laws. It is the responsibility of every institution to adhere to these laws. The second principle is referred to as the principle of non-discrimination. The plan should foster an atmosphere of respect for and sensitivity to the dignity of every individual. As stated by Western Michigan University (2013), it is the policy of NCAA to refrain from discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation or creed with respect to its governance, educational programs, employment and activities. It is the responsibility of the department to determine its own policy concerning nondiscrimination independently. Whereas the NCAA does not enforce Title IX, the association membership expects all schools to have a gender equity plan that guides the institution in assessing, monitoring and improving gender equity performance (Brake, 2001). In addition to federal reporting obligations, the membership participates in a yearly financial and demographics reporting system that includes gender equity data.
The second consideration is fair participation opportunities. One of the essential requirements of Title IX is that equal participation opportunities in intercollegiate sports need to be offered to both genders. In fact, a successful gender equity plan must reflect equality in the participation opportunities. This implies that male participation opportunities should be proportional to the female participation opportunities. The plan should not indicate skewed allocation of participation opportunities. By participation opportunities, Galemore (2003) implied the respective sports. For instance, in the University of Georgia, participation opportunities for men include baseball, golf, and track and field and cross country, basketball, swimming and diving, tennis and weightlifting. On the other hand, the participation opportunities for women include equestrian, golf, softball, cross country, basketball, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, and volleyball. This reflects equal participation opportunities for both men and women athletes in the University of Georgia.
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The third consideration is tiering programs. Heckman (2003) pointed out that it is an institutional option if an athletic program chooses to tier certain teams or sports, offering greater resources for specific teams. However, it would be a violation to choose the same number of teams for women and men if the real number of participants on these teams varies. For instance, placing men’s basketball, football, women’s basketball and women’s soccer in tier one would result in possibly 115 men and 37 women benefiting at the highest level (O’Reilly, 2012). If the proportional figure of female student-athletes overall is 45%, then the 45% of tier one participants need to be female, or 94 female student-athletes if 115 male student-athletes are in tier one.
Fundraising is another consideration in the process of developing an effective gender equity plan. This issue is significant and often misunderstood. Athletics department should have a uniform approach to fundraising and the expenditure of the money fundraised. The equity plan should ensure that opportunity to fundraise is not limited in a discriminatory manner (O’Reilly, 2012). If men’s teams are allowed to fundraise or supported by the institutional personnel, resources or facilities, then women’s teams should also be offered the same opportunity. In this regard, the department should deploy its network of contacts to equally help the teams fundraise. The athletic director’s duty to offer equal benefit is not alleviated in scenario where certain sports are more popular.
The fifth consideration is roster management. Departments might decide to employ a roster management plan in order to work toward adhering to the accommodation of abilities and interests requirements. However, the department should be very diligent and committed to its supervision of roster controls (Brake, 2001). The floors for female squad teams must be realistic, and roster spots should be sufficiently supported by the resources of the department. Courts and the OCR will not simply depend on roster sizes reported in the EADA, but they are likely to consider participation opportunities deleted and added during sport season to assess effective accommodation efforts.
Other issues that need to be taken into consideration include hiring practices, procedures and education to address sexual harassment, work-life balance and treatment of parenting and pregnant student athletes among other gender-specific policies.
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Strategies for Achieving Proportionality in the Department
According to Western Michigan University (2013), the keys to having an effective gender equity plan are education, commitment and communication. There are various strategies that an athletic director and the department can choose in order to facilitate gender equity.
The first strategy is including gender equity in the mission and vision statement of the department. The mission statement defines the objectives of the organizations. In other words, it states what the department hopes to achieve. Including the gender in the mission statement of the department is likely to enable both the staff and student-athletes to focus on it (Heckman, 2003). This is because it assumes the center-stage of the organizational goals. It is apparent that gender equity can be realized very fast when stakeholder focuses on achieving it. Including gender equity in the mission statement implies that the entire department has a responsibility to ensure equal opportunities for both male and female student athletes. Collective effort from the entire department makes it easier to achieve gender equity.
The second strategy involves helping people to comprehend gender equity and Title IX. According to Lopiano & Zotos (2013), there is no way the department can promote gender equity when the people who are supposed to benefit from it do not have the necessary information. Equipping people with information concerning Title IX and gender equity should be among the initial steps in the process of developing an effective plan. O’Reilly (2012) pointed out that educating people will lead to better buy-in and commitment to attaining gender equity. Lack of information significantly contributes to gender inequality in most departments. For the department to be committed to gender equity, the staff and student athletes should be knowledgeable about the possible impacts and benefits of gender equity. This will also enable them to pinpoint situations of gender inequity.
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The third strategy is including gender equity and Title IX information in university and department speaker forums, which are available to coaches, student athletes, faculty and administrators. This will subject the issue to adequate evaluation. In fact, the forums can provide effective ways of ensuring gender equity. According to O’Reilly (2012), there are several speakers with the ability to improve the educational efforts of the department in ensuring gender equity. In addition, forums might also act as medium for communicating gender equity and Title IX information.
Another strategy is discussing with the administration, staff, board and community members the significance of gender equity in athletics. By do so, they can assess and foresee the future contribution of gender equity towards improving the academic and athletic performance of student athletes. Most people develop a preference for something by assessing the benefits associated with it (Heckman, 2003). This implies that they will only develop a better buy-in after knowing the significance of gender equity. Through such discussions, it is easy to collectively channel efforts towards a gender-equitable environment that offers opportunities to both male and female student-athletes.
Another strategy is assessing athletic programs objectively for equity and on an on-going basis. Establishing a department that promotes gender equality is a continuous process. This is because opportunities for male and female student athletes change each day. In addition, legislation continues changing. As a result, the administrator cannot streamline the department once and for all. Continuous assessment of the department ensures that the it complies with the latest legislation. This strategy requires identifying ways of implementing changes in a constructive way. As a result, it would be imperative to involve the staff in the search for solutions. According to United States Department of Justice (2012), it is easy to objectively make changes when those affected are part of the process.
The final strategy is establishing a gender equity committee with diverse representation. This committee should include women and men from different university departments and disciplines and of different ethnicities and races (Lopiano & Zotos, 2013). The various experiences and perspectives will facilitate a thorough assessment of women and men programs. In addition, it will allow of expansive search of solutions where gender disparities exist (United States Department of Justice, 2012). This committee needs to be a standing one. This implies that it should not only be available to develop a gender equity plan but also to assist in monitoring the progress of goals, communicate with community constituents and campus, and adjust the gender equity plan.
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Steps Taken in Submitting the Plan to the Central Administration
According to O’Reilly (2012), a positive attitude is significant for successful development and implementation of not only gender equity plan but also other plans. The process of submitting the plan need to be approached with a constructive commitment to doing the right thing for both female and male students and the department.
The first step is reviewing the documents utilized for NCAA Division I certification, or Division II and III self-studies. Heckman (2003) added that the NCAA report and resources should also be reviewed during the first step of submission. These documents offer a means to start the submission process.
The second step is reviewing the federal Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) for preciseness and a comparison of status of previous years. If any variations exist in any of the 13 areas of Title IX, these areas should be part of what is addressed by the gender equity plan to be submitted. In this step, the athletics administrator should ensure that he or she has addressed the laundry list (United States Department of Justice, 2012).
Prior to the submission, it is important to identify problems, issues and solutions. By using the input from coaches, gender equity team and student athletes, and information from the EADA report, the athletic administrator should develop a list of the key areas where disparities exist and initiatives that can be taken in order to correct the gender disparities (Heckman, 2003).
The fourth step is seeking feedback from student athletes and those involved in women’s and men’s athletics. Most often, coaches and administrators are ones involved in men’s and women’s athletics (United States Department of Justice, 2012). In addition to the EADA report, written assessment tool that addresses the laundry list and interviews can produce valuable information that will assist in reviewing the plan.
The paper has discussed the development of a gender equity plan. The NCAA plays a highly important role in ensuring impartial treatment of all student athletes and staff. The association attains this by means of an inclusive culture that propagates equal participation for student athletes and career opportunities for coaches and administrators from different backgrounds. The various considerations in developing a gender equity plan include legal issues, equitable participation opportunities, tiering programs, fundraising, and roster management. The crucial factors for having a positive and effective gender equity plan are education, commitment and communication. Continuous assessment of the department ensures that the it complies with the latest legislations. The process of submitting the plan need to be approached with a constructive commitment to benefit both female and male students and the department.