August 14, 2017
In this week's edition:
- Gender and the Sports Entertainment Industry (3/4)
- "Fair or Unfair?" A Guest Piece by Jenna Weiner
- Oh Yes She Did! Highlight Reel
Gender and the Sports Entertainment Industry:
Love in the Time of Job Discrimination (3/4)
In our first week, we looked at the different interest groups that participate in the culture of sports from the players to the fans to the owners. In our last article, we talked a little bit about the history of media and how gender bias can impact what we perceive the ideal image of an athlete to be. This week, we’ll look at how access to wealth overlaps with playing opportunities for women in sports. Since we’re looking at sports leagues that participate in the capitalist system of the US, our history will focus on the last 300 years of history in America, acknowledging that there is a long history prior in North America we are passing over.
“Capitalism” is defined by Merriam-Webster as an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market. One must have access to capital (e.g. goods, services, and cash) simply to participate in a capitalist system, and to be successful, one must build their level of capital, aka their wealth. A person’s wealth, or net worth, refers to the total value of their financial and nonfinancial assets minus their debts. We build wealth by having a higher capital input than output, meaning we make more money than we spend. The leftover money we have after paying our bills is called disposable income, which we can then choose to spend on entertainment, life advancement, and/or investment funds. Although entertainment can be a personal investment, an individual builds their wealth and capital by investing their left over money into hedge funds and real estate or other property.
To access this wealth, one must have an income. To have an income, one must have a job, and those jobs, especially the best ones, have historically been limited to white men. In early America, women were expected to work in the house and feed the family. Male indentured servants could earn their passage across the ocean and then start to earn money, whereas white women had a social contract to ignore the financials of the family. People of color were enslaved and considered for many years to be property, and greatly contributed to the wealth of this country, when adding up the hours working in the fields and building the houses and universities that have been passed down through generations.
In the late 1800s after the Civil War, formerly enslaved women entered the workforce in order to take care of themselves and live in America. Later, poor and middle class white women entered the workforce to help provide for the family during the Depression. In 1943, when all the men were away fighting in World War II, the US government released the famous image of Rosie the Riveter encouraging women to support their country by entering the workforce. All of a sudden, more women had access to a wider range of jobs, which sparked a new sense of freedom for women and inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, created the second wave of feminism in the late 1960s.
Over the past 30 years, we’ve seen a lot of improvement for women in the workforce, especially white women. In 2017, there are 32 female CEOs on the Fortune 500 list, which even though makes up just 6.4 percent of the US’s biggest companies, is the highest number ever on the Fortune 500 list. However, there are only two women of color, Geisha Williams of PG&E Corporation and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, and none are African American. Income, though, is still the impetus for wealth, and the income disparity, which recently increased for white women to $.78 to the white man's dollar, is even more unequal for women of color (see chart below). The experience of the Black woman in the workforce inspired Dr. Kimberlee Crenshaw’s iconic piece on “Intersectionality” highlighting the increased challenges of Black women in the workplace who were banned from jobs made for men because they were not men, and jobs made for women (secretaries, etc.) because they were not white.
Similar to the lack of access to jobs, women also had limited access to sports. The first big women’s sports were individual sports, including tennis, golf, and track and field. Team sports only became popularly available to women after Title IX was passed in 1972, which required schools to provide equal amount of government funding to men’s and women’s sports. Now there was actual investment in the infrastructure of youth sports from schools, which exposed many young girls to sports.
Women were also limited in competitions available to them. For example in 1960, women were banned from running over 200 meters in the Olympics, because the International Olympic Committee was convinced that women's bodies could not cope with the strain of the distance. The first big US women’s international team success story happened at the 1996 summer Olympics, when the US basketball team won their first gold medal, a title they haven’t lost since. The following year, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), the only women’s professional league to make it to 20 years, was created.
As women succeed in the workplace, they create more disposable income and more wealth for themselves. With more wealth comes more power in a capitalist system, and as such companies have responded to these growing markets of women in the sports industry. Additionally, sports have been found to improve the educational achievement and quality of life for young girls, meaning that there are more empowered women in the workforce. However, there are still significant inequalities, particularly at the intersection of race and wealth, that will require a redistribution of wealth to promote more equitable systems in the sports entertainment industry.
Stop and Think: what can you do with your financial power to help reduce wealth inequities, particularly for women in ultimate?
Written by Laurel Oldershaw.
Fair or Unfair? Considering Trans People’s Place in Ultimate
A Guest Piece by Jenna Weiner
Jenna Weiner, guest of Episode 2 of The Upline Cut, talked with us last week about her experiences as a Trans woman in ultimate. Here's a follow up article on the idea of fairness when Trans people play ultimate, and it's an amazing way to continue to read up and learn about this topic.
Oh Yes She Did! Highlight Reel
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