When it comes to high school-based athletic opportunities, girls of color are coming up shortest, according to a report released last month from the National Women’s Law Center and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council.
The report examined high schools with a student body that is either at least 90 percent white or no more than 10 percent white to see how large of a female opportunity gap existed at each. In total, 42 percent of U.S. public high schools fell into the “heavily white” or “heavily minority” category.
One way for schools to satisfy Title IX, the federal legislation requiring female students to have equal access to athletic and extracurricular activities, is to demonstrate proportionality—in other words, to show that there is an equal percentage of females participating in sports as there is in a school’s student body. If a school’s student body is 40 percent female and 30 percent of the spots on sports teams go to females, for instance, the school would be deemed to have a 10-percentage-point opportunity gap.
The authors found that 40 percent of heavily minority high schools and 16 percent of heavily white schools had a female opportunity gap of at least 10 percentage points. A typical heavily minority high school had 20 spots on sports teams for females per 100 students, and 30 spots for males; a typical heavily white school had 51 spots for females and 62 spots for males per 100 students.
A version of this article appeared in the May 06, 2015 edition of Education Week as Equity in Sports