In 1972, a federal civil rights law, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act was passed, stating:
“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.”
The law’s application to athletics gained great public visibility in the years since, and has resulted in important strides for equality in sport. However, despite nearing the 50th anniversary of Title IX, our sport and medical systems continue to disadvantage athletes “on the basis of sex”. The debacle at the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament this past Spring, is just one example of how women athletes are not afforded the same quality of care, respect, media coverage, or pay as men despite being just as successful and profitable. Additionally, women of color, and trans, queer, and non-binary athletes are especially marginalized in these spaces.
At Performance in Motion, one of our most valued guiding principles state:
We believe in creating a clean, safe, healing environment and showing respect and dignity to everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual-orientation, or socioeconomic status.
We recognize that because of the systems in which we operate, we need to be intentional about supporting femme, trans, women, and non-binary athletes to succeed. As the first step, we talked to members of our community about their experiences as women athletes. We chatted with several folks, from Olympians to weekend warriors, as well as coaches, administrators, and parents of young athletes. The conversations revealed troubling, though not surprising, challenges that women athletes face, including:
- Lack of access to experts, especially those with whom athletes have trusted relationships
- Absence of women’s media representation, coverage, and leadership at elite levels of sport
- Limited access to high quality sports environments and facilities
- Limited understanding and consideration of physiologic differences in clinical and coaching settings
We think that these conditions are unacceptable. Our sport and medical systems must transform to support women athletes through equitable pay, medical care, coaching, and representation. We need all stakeholders, from professional sports institutions down to individual athletes and coaches, to bring about this change. Our goal is to contribute to that transformation and, right now, Team PIM is working hard to define what our piece of the work looks like.
To achieve this goal, PIM will:
- Identify opportunities for PIM staff to grow their clinical and performance expertise when supporting women athletes
- Provide services and amenities to ensure PIM’s facilities are fully accessible, safe, and inclusive for women athletes
- Educate ourselves and other movement practitioners through inservices, workshops, and online materials
- Raise awareness of gender disparities in sport
- Offer ourselves as trusted experts for physical therapy and performance training
- Facilitate community for women athletes
- Build relationships with and elevate trans and non-binary athletes already leading in this space
- Build a network with other professionals involved in sports and healthcare who are motivated to support women athletes through collaboration and resource sharing.
We ask that you join us as we pursue this work. Help us grow, learn, and advocate for equality for women athletes. We want to hear from you: If you are a woman athlete, when have you struggled or seen others struggle to achieve their sport or movement goals? If you have a woman athlete in your life, what can you do to support them? Email us at : (firstname.lastname@example.org) or DM/comment on social media [Instagram and Facebook].
Autumn Neuharth PT, DPT, OCS
Physical Therapist – PIM West Loop