Women in the Olympics
Besides the discrimination women and girls face in high school and college, amateur sports are also biased against women.
The Amateur Sports Act, passed in 1978, requires the United States Olympic Committee and its National Governing Bodies for each sport to operate in a nondiscriminatory manner. Yet sixteen years after this federal law passed the governing bodies of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) are still overwhelmingly male. Out of the USOC's 100-member Board of Directors, only 19 are women. The USOC's 19-member Executive Committee has only four women.
According to the USOC's member services and grants department, women were 37% of Olympic athletes for 1991-92, and received only 35% of the "subsistence" grants the USOC gives to athletes for their training and living expenses.
The Olympics offers fewer sports for women than men. During the 1992 Summer Olympics, men competed in 159 events, and women competed in 86. In the 1994 Winter Olympics, men had 34 events, and women had 25. The Atlanta Olympics will host a record 3,780 female Olympians, yet there will still be far more men -- more than 6,500.
The USOC is "dedicated to providing opportunities for American athletes of all ages. "Yet it seems to be doing a much better job of providing opportunities for men than women.
In some fundamentalist Muslim countries, women are barred from participating in the Olympics. An international women's group called "Atlanta Plus" has launched a campaign demanding that nations who do not allow women on their Olympic delegations be excluded from the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. At the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, 34 countries had no women athletes.
Atlanta Plus, led by European women's groups, argues that gender discrimination is similar to racial discrimination, and countries who bar women from the Olympics should be excluded, just as South Africa was excluded because of racial discrimination. The initial response from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) director was that the exclusion of women from Islamic country Olympic teams was not a concern of the JOC.29
(Empowering Women in Sports, The Empowering Women Series, No. 4; A Publication of the Feminist Majority Foundation, 1995)