Title IX: Owner of the WNBA among women athletes running businesses

FILE - Seattle Storm owner Ginny Gilder speaks during a fan rally to celebrate Storm's victory in the 2018 WNBA basketball championship, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Seattle.  As Title IX marks its 50th anniversary this year, Gilder is one of countless women who have benefited from the enactment and execution of the law, translating those opportunities into becoming leaders in their professional careers.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

FILE – Seattle Storm owner Ginny Gilder speaks during a fan rally to celebrate Storm’s victory in the 2018 WNBA basketball championship, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Seattle. As Title IX marks its 50th anniversary this year, Gilder is one of countless women who have benefited from the enactment and execution of the law, translating those opportunities into becoming leaders in their professional careers. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

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Ginny Gilder didn’t quite know what title IX meant until she was a freshman at Yale, competing for the rowing team and participating in one of the most famous protests surrounding the law.

The WNBA’s Seattle Storm co-owner was right in the middle of the “Yale Strip-In” in 1976 to protest the unequal treatment of male and female rowers at school.

“What happened to me personally, I always say…the experience radicalized me,” Gilder said. “Because I grew up in New York, on the Upper East Side. I was a private school girl on Park Avenue. I mean, you want to talk about privilege, that would be me. So that was the first time I was discriminated against.

As Title IX marks its 50th anniversary this year, Gilder is one of countless women who have benefited from the enactment and enforcement of the law and translated those opportunities into becoming leaders in their professional careers.

Participating in this protest sparked a campaign in Gilder. This helped her become an Olympic silver medalist in rowing at the Los Angeles Games in 1984. It helped her build a successful business career as an investor and philanthropist. It also helped Gilder come to terms with his sexuality in the late 1990s.

She is now part of the ownership group that bought the Storm in 2008 and kept the franchise stable in her hometown.

“I think a lot of what I’ve learned in business is that you have to go for what you want, and not what you want, like in a personal way, but in terms of your view of the world and the change you want to make,” Gilder said. “And that’s definitely an experience I learned from becoming an athlete.

“But it’s really an experience that I learned from this protest,” Gilder added. sleeves.”

Gail Koziara Boudreaux has also used her competitive spirit to succeed off the basketball court.

The career goalscoring and rebounding leader at Dartmouth has served as president and CEO of Anthem, Inc. since 2017.

Boudreaux, a three-time Ivy League player of the year and a four-time Ivy League shot put champion, said historically there haven’t been many female CEOs — and among those who have, she said many were former athletes. .

“If you look at a lot of us, we have sporting backgrounds at different levels,” Boudreaux said. “And I think that fuels competitiveness and our fearlessness to take on challenges and not be afraid to step in, you know, to step in and play the game.”

With Title IX providing more opportunities for women through growing participation at all levels – from youth sports to college, Boudreaux believes the number of female CEOs will inevitably increase and level the playing field for businesses. It’s one of the reasons Boudreaux endowed a coaching position at her alma mater with her company’s investment.

“I think it’s important for us to give back to the things that helped us move it forward and also to be a significant and socially responsible business in the community,” Boudreaux said.

Jacqie McWilliams knows firsthand what doors can open when an opportunity presents itself to someone.

She is the first black female commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. McWilliams has also been on the NCAA’s Gender Equity Task Force since 2016. Prior to that, she spent nine years managing NCAA championships.

McWilliams was conference player of the year in basketball and volleyball at Hampton. She sees a responsibility to give back to the pipeline that has given her so much.

“As commissioner,” McWilliams said, “I have access to a lot of things, a platform in a position of power that I think is quite humbling to have a place where I can push things forward. others, that I can defend in rooms that some may never enter, even as a black woman.”

McWilliams and others have fought many battles along the way and understand there is still a long way to go. The struggle for this equality has taken different forms over the past 50 years.

McWilliams cited social media posts that highlighted fairness issues at the 2021 NCAA tournaments.

“I don’t think there’s a time now where we can’t invest…in the same way we’ve done in the past,” McWilliams said.

For Gilder, that has meant putting her passion into trying to make the WNBA a successful business, both with the team she owns and the entire league as a whole. She also champions growth and change within her league.

“There’s tremendous recognition that the WNBA, and certainly the Storm, provide an authentic expression for any human or business that cares about diversity, equity (and) inclusion,” Gilder said. “We wouldn’t exist as a league without Title IX. It is authentic for us to advocate for social change.

“It’s not something we do in our spare time,” she added. “It’s who we are, and the culture has changed a bit to support that and recognize how important it is.”

But Gilder notes that prejudice is still prevalent in society. She said that although it is not as overt as before the law was enacted, it is such that there must be continued pressure for fairness.

“You have to normalize the way people think about things and it’s one by one,” Gilder said. “But you do it enough one by one, it starts to become a wave. It’s like any type of change. And at some point things start to shift and what seemed like a radical idea is accepted as the status quo.

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AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker contributed to this report

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For more on the impact of Title IX, check out the full AP package: https://apnews.com/hub/title-ix Video timeline: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v= NdgNI6BZpw0

Naomi C. Amerson