Celebrating the landmark legislation

The 23rd June marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX; 37 words that changed the history of women’s sport in the USA. To celebrate, we asked six of our people a few questions around the significance of Title IX.

  • Kathryn Foreman – Vice President, Consulting
  • Elizabeth Sanchez – Senior Account Executive
  • Stephanie Smilowitz – Executive Vice President
  • Ron Erskine – Senior Vice President
  • Angela Yang – Director, Consulting
  • Brooke Destefani – Senior Account Director, Brand Experiences

What does Title IX mean to you?

Elizabeth: Title IX offered me the opportunity to be inspired by the world is sports and see strong female leaders in actions. It allowed me the opportunity to connect with and support other women growing up and compete.

Angela: I did not grow up in the US, so learning about the history of Title IX, especially reading all the pivotal cases that pushed the legislative, was a great education on how gender equality was fought for. It made me appreciative of where are now while seeing the need to continue paving the way forward.

Brooke: Title IX allowed me to think that a career in sports was possible.  I wasn’t going to be an elite caliber athlete, but I think Title IX was a catalyst for more women to get involved in sport – as commentators, as producers, as marketers.  It opened up the world of sport beyond being an Olympian or World Champion.  You began to watch and see more sports and opportunities at more achievable levels.

Ron: More equal opportunity.

Stephanie: Title IX provided an opportunity that wasn’t there for my mom and the generation of women before me. Playing junior tennis through the college level shaped a huge part of my life, and the thought of not being able to play because of gender was never on my radar – thanks to Title IX.

Kathryn: I think I’ve mostly taken it for granted. Title IX and the opportunity to participate in sports has always been a part of my life. It’s been through living and working abroad I’ve seen firsthand how lucky I am to have grown up with opportunities to play sports, and was always encouraged to do so.

What’s your favorite women’s sport moment of the 20th century?

Brooke: There are many that come to mind across so many sports, but I have to go with one that I watched and felt the achievement to my core – the Women’s World Cup Championship of 1999.  This was the first time I remember the whole world tuning into a women’s sporting event.  The game itself was monumental but that team of women was the epitome of why I participated in sport.  They had overcome so many hurdles and had each other’s back not only in those moments and games in the World Cup but in the years leading into it.  They achieved that Championship together.

Angela: Billie Jean King winning Battle of the Sexes in 1973.

Ron: The 1999 Women’s World Cup and Brandi Chastain’s kick and reaction to the us winning, captured perfectly on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Kathryn: The magic of the Olympics made an impact on me as a little girl, and I vividly remember being fascinated by Flo-Jo during the 1988 Olympics. To me, she was larger than life, she had presence, charisma, and the most incredible style. When she won the gold medal in the 100-meter dash I heard someone say she was the “fastest woman in the world” which was the absolute coolest thing I had ever heard.

Stephanie: A tie between two moments from the 1996 Olympics. The US Women’s soccer team winning the gold medal! It was the first-time women’s soccer was even in the Olympics and I was lucky enough to attend the semifinal match in person in Athens, GA where they won in a shootout! And Kerri Strug pulling out the gold medal for the Women’s gymnastics team while injured.

Elizabeth: Billie Jean King’s career overall and her “Battle of the Sexes” win in 1973 against Bobby Riggs demonstrated the power of the female athlete.

Headshots: Stephanie Smilowitz, Elizabeth Sanchez, Kathryn Foreman

What’s your favorite women’s sport moment of this 21st century?

Kathryn: The Team USA women’s gymnastics team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics made a huge impression on me. Their performances were incredible, but the conversations they have led outside of competition is what is truly inspiring to me.

Elizabeth: US Women’s National Team win at the 2019 FIFA World Cup. It was amazing to see how everyone in the States was supported these incredible female athletes.

Brooke: The UCLA Gymnastics team who won the 2018 NCAA title.  For those that didn’t watch this meet (probably everyone) it was hands down the best gymnastics competition I’ve ever witnessed.  UCLA scored an NCAA record on their final rotation, beam, to overtake the lead and when the championship.  Yes, I love gymnastics. And yes, I went to UCLA.

Stephanie: Not so much as moment, but more of an evolution. Watching Serena Williams career from her first major as a teen, to fighting to capture the Grand Slam as a mother has been incredible to watch.

Angela: Eileen Gu winning two gold medals at Beijing 2022. Check out her speech on Title IX when she was 12!

Ron: The US Women’s National Soccer team achieving equal pay/equal revenue sharing with the Men’s National team.

Who are your four women athletes on your Title IX-themed Mount Rushmore?

Brooke: Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Simone Biles, Megan Rapinoe, Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Stephanie: Billie Jean King, Venus Williams, Abby Wambach, Allyson Felix

Angela: Sue Bird, Mia Hamm, Allyson Felix, Chloe Kim

Elizabeth: Serena Williams, Meagan Rapinoe, Billie Jean King, Simone Biles

Ron: Pat Summitt, Billie Jean King, Mia Hamm, Sue Bird

Kathryn: Katherine Switzer, Serena Williams, Mia Hamm, Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Who are non-CSM women currently leading the way in women’s sport/event/brand/property management?

Elizabeth: Jeanie Buss, The owners of Angel City & front office, Sarah Cummins, Vanessa Tavares

Ron: WTA president Micky Lawler, Big East commissioner Val Ackerman, the US Women’s National Soccer team, and University of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley

Kathryn: Natalie White – Founder of Moolah Kicks, Julie Uhrman – Founder of Angel FC, Haley Rosen – Founder of Just Women’s Sports, , Sally Bergesen – Founder of Oiselle

Stephanie: Haley Rosen (Just Women’s Sports), The entire Angel City FC front office, Michele Kang (Washington Spirit).

Angela: Angela Ruggiero; The owners of Angel City FC; Katrina Adams; Val Ackerman

Brooke: Val Ackerman, Dawn Staley, Allyson Felix

What are women’s sport’s biggest challenges still?

Kathryn: The pay gap. The recent news coming from US Soccer is very positive, but we need others to follow suit.

Brooke: Pay.  Across the board…pay. There’s been some recent wins with equal pay and the USWNT but that is only one federation.  This needs to move across the board through all sports and sports management.  There’s still too much of a gap.

Elizabeth: We need to continue to push for equal exposure in media and broadcast. No one can get excited about what’s happening and these amazing athletes if the public consumer don’t get to witness it!

Ron: Visibility via broadcasts and an underappreciation of skill level.

Stephanie: Receiving proper media coverage. If fans were given better access to the match ups, great performances, and awesome storylines – they would be hooked! More eyeballs = more sponsors which ultimately raises the game.

Angela: Making women’s sports more accessible to more audiences, especially through broadcast and livestreams.

Headshots: Ron Erskine, Brooke Destefani, Angela Yang

What are women’s sport’s biggest opportunities yet?

Angela: Sports can be a powerful force for changes and I’m excited to see the increasing influence of women’s sports translates into a bigger gender equality movement globally.

Kathryn: Sponsors have barely scratched the surface of tapping into the power of women’s sports and partnering with athletes to represent their brand.

Elizabeth: More equitable pay and financial support from sponsors to continue investing into these athletes.

Ron: Increased exposure to the mass broadcast audience, and more organizations/properties taking the step that the US Soccer Teams did—a massive moment.

Stephanie: Gaining more sponsors. It feels like a big turning point now where brands are seeing their partnerships in women’s sports as a real marketing opportunity, and not a charitable contribution.

Brooke: I think NIL deals significantly help female athletes because of the next-level, professional gap between men’s and women’s sport.  NCAA athletes that maybe don’t have the opportunity to turn pro or where NCAA is more of an end point to a career, can generate money to invest in their careers.   A very interesting and early success story of NIL is LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne – she’s generated over $1million through endorsements with Vuori and American Eagle, amongst others.  It’s amazing to see athletes outside of football, basketball being able to stand out with NIL deals!

Title IX will have achieved a perfect X (ten) when…..?

Elizabeth: When resources and scholarship dollars are equally allocated across men’s and women’s athletic programs. – Elizabeth

Brooke: When we no longer are referring to this as women’s sport and it’s just sport. But does the perfect X exist?

Stephanie: When the protections are even more inclusive toward the LGBTQAI+ community as well as other represented groups who are still somewhat marginalized within the sports world.

Ron: When opportunities, equipment, resources, media coverage and recognition for both genders are equal.

Kathryn: We drop the “women’s” in front of “sports”.

Angela: When every woman, no matter at which stage of her life, does not feel their potential is limited because of their gender.

What brand is “doing it right” in women’s sport right now?

Ron: Volvo’s entitlement of the Scandinavian mixed masters golf event hosted by Henrik and Annika.  Both DP World Tour and Ladies European Tour represented, the format set to make it fair for both genders, and a female won the event in a runaway with the next 10-15 finishers men.

Stephanie: Dicks Sporting Goods & Toyota – both groups have really broken outside of the traditional model of using their rights packages and have put a stake in the ground to supporting not only women’s sports but youth and adaptive sports as well.

Angela: Nike. I was personally influenced by Nike’s women’s sport marketing to take up running. They really put their platform to great use and leveraged their leading voice to keep pushing the boundaries of marketing female athletes and women’s sports.

Brooke: I love what Athleta is doing and the stories they are telling.  They speak to the everyday athlete and the everyday woman through their products, their mission and their stories.

Elizabeth: Brands like Gatorade are seeing the importance of investing in these female athletes and knowing how to celebrate their strength. They are working to break barriers in sports and grow the next generation of female athletes and leaders.

Kathryn: Athleta’s partnership with Allyson Felix really resonated with me. I’d never given much thought to Athleta when buying active wear, now it is at the top of my list.