Women in Intercollegiate Sport Hitting New Heights

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"Highest ever" is a phrase that appears repeatedly in the latest "Women in Intercollegiate Sport" update, released Monday by Brooklyn College professors emerita and study co-authors Vivian Acosta and Linda Carpenter.

Now in its 35th year, the study is nearly as old as its inspiration - the 1972 passage of Title IX, the 40-year-old law that many coaches have struggled (or chosen not) to inhibited the rise of women in athletics administration for a time.

For now, though, things are looking up. Consider the following:

• A total of 13,792 female professionals are employed within intercollegiate athletics in 2012 (including coaches, assistant coaches, athletics administrators, sports information directors, athletic trainers, and strength and training coaches).

• Women's intercollegiate teams now number 9,274, for an average of 8.73 women's teams per school.

• Women's teams are currently led by 3,974 head coaches, and women's teams now employ 12,301 paid assistant coaches, of which 7,024 are female.

Each number above represents a "highest ever" benchmark in the ongoing study, the entirety of which can be accessed here. Several explanations for the progress may exist, according to the study's authors. They include society's ability to embrace females as athletes and to realize the life-enriching benefits afforded both men and women through sports participation; increased media attention devoted to women's sports and long-term women's sports advocacy by such groups as the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport and the National Coalition for Girls and Women in Education; as well as societal pressure toward non-discriminatory practices resulting from successful Title IX lawsuits.

"Whatever the cause," Acosta and Carpenter write, "female athletes are being afforded opportunities in greater numbers than ever before."

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