Handbook on the Economics of Women in Sports
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Handbook on the Economics of Women in Sports

Edited by Eva Marikova Leeds and Michael A. Leeds

Women’s sports have received much less attention from economists than from other social scientists. This Handbook fills that gap with a comprehensive economic analysis of women’s sports. It also analyzes how the behavior and treatment of female athletes reflect broad economic forces.
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Chapter 9: The economics of Title IX compliance in intercollegiate athletics

Susan L. Averett and Sarah M. Estelle


Gender equality in intercollegiate athletics has been the subject of numerous articles in the popular press and the economics literature. In this chapter, we examine what is arguably the most-studied topic in women’s sports: Title IX. This law bans sex discrimination in schools and has opened a myriad of academic and sports opportunities for women at the interscholastic, intercollegiate, and – indirectly – professional levels. The idea of providing equal opportunities to women and girls in education has been met with little disagreement, but the policies that have been implemented in pursuit of this ideal, particularly in the realm of intercollegiate athletics, are very controversial. While sports is not its sole focus, Title IX (described in detail below) requires gender equality in athletic participation as well as funding for women’s and men’s sports. For decades, athletic directors and colleges and universities in general have struggled to comply with the law, which they argue is unrealistic at best. Many critics of the legislation contest that it has led to reverse discrimination – that schools have slashed opportunities for men in order to demonstrate equal participation as stipulated by the law. Detractors also assert that Title IX ignores gender differences in athletic interests and ability to play varsity sports.

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