Christine Grant stresses sex equality


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Nearly 50 people filed into a room in the Lindquist Learning Center on Tuesday to listen to Christine Grant discuss “The Politics of Sport” as a part of the University of Iowa College of Education’s Distinguished Speaker Series. 

Grant, the former University of Iowa women’s athletics director, has been a Title IX advocate for more than 40 years. Title IX is federal law that demands for equality based on sex in federally funded educational programs and activities.

She has testified on Title IX and sex-equity cases before numerous U.S. House of Representatives subcommittees and has served as an expert witness in several Title IX lawsuits.

“We try to think of people who have had widespread influence on the nation because of their work, because of their ideas, and Christine Grant so transcends athletics,” said Education Dean Nicholas Colangelo. “Her work is important to so many fields.”

However, Title IX was not the main focus of her talk.

Instead, she advocated for the importance of getting women into leadership positions in order to effect change.

“I believe that many women have different priorities in their values; then it stands to reason we must get women into decision-making positions in order to effectuate change,” Grant said. “That is the reason why I so strongly support 50-50 in 2020.”

Grant serves on the advisory board for 50-50 in 2020, a bipartisan initiative to achieve political equity in Iowa.

“It’s my experience that when women are not at the decision-making table, issues of concern to them are not on the agenda,” she said. “That is why we must significantly increase the number of women in our governing structures at all levels.”               

While Grant is pleased with the steps made for women’s equality, she is disappointed by how much still needs to be done.

Female participation in high-school sports has yet to reach the number that participation of males was at in 1972.

That is not to retract from the positive outcomes, though.

Increased participation in high-school sports has led to increased participation at the college level, even in sports not necessarily offered by high schools.

One such sport is rowing, and UI assistant coach Julie Quoss said Title IX has helped in having rowing being offered at all.

“[Title IX has] helped to grow our team,” Quoss said. “Girls who played sports in high school are coming out as walk-ons with no experience in rowing have seen rowing as an opportunity and has added to our success.”

Although it is the principal issue of Title IX, Grant believes equality in sports has not been the most important outcome of the statute.

Instead, she sees education equality as vital.

Percentages of females getting dental, medical, and law degrees have drastically increased since Title IX was introduced. Each increased by more than 30 percent, starting at 1, 9, and 7 percent, respectively.

Along with that, statistics from 2010 show that females make up more than half of the population earning degrees, with 57 percent of those earning bachelor’s degrees being women.

“Sometimes it seems as though people only think of sport when they think of Title IX,” Grant said. “[But] these [education numbers] are the most important results of Title IX.”

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