Muffet McGraw

Guest Blog:
Muffet McGraw
Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Head Coach
Member, SeeHer Advisory Board

I was excited to see that SeeHer is branching into athletics with its SeeHerInSports program.  Women have been fighting for equality in sports in earnest since Title IX was implemented in 1972 and the powerful influence of SeeHer, the ANA and the collective’s 70-odd members is a welcome addition to our team.

We’ve come a long way since l972 but so much more can and should be done to give women more opportunity. In men’s basketball 99% of coaching staffs are male yet in women’s basketball only 40% of coaches are female.  We need to hire more women but until our athletes can look up and see women leading, and until we have more than 10% female athletic directors doing the hiring we have an uphill battle to fight.  

The lack of media attention significantly affects how we are perceived.  When just 4% of the coverage in all of sports is directed at women it’s easy to see why the casual fan sees women’s sports as not good enough to merit their attention.  We don’t see enough women leading teams and when we do see them we are often seen as women first, noting our attire and emotions on the sideline while men can get away with berating officials and are seen as merely fighting for their team.  When Serena Williams tells a referee he made a bad call, she’s seen as overreacting, emotional and out of control, rather than someone who is fighting for herself.

When our amazing women’s national soccer team won the FIBA Tournament there was a lot of negative publicity about the way these confident women celebrated. Women are not allowed to have a swagger and express themselves like men can.   When a men’s team wins the NBA title there is no judGEM®ent about how they celebrate.  They are seen as champions and rewarded and admired for their victory.   

Despite the growth and excitement that women’s sports are currently enjoying, why is so little sponsorship dollars being spent on our product?  Similar to the coverage we receive from the media, the total sports sponsorship for women is about 4%.    

Athletics is a great place to start in order to show young girls that they can have female role models, that they can be a leader and be in a position of power.  Women can help themselves by being more confident in applying for jobs.  We can learn a lot from men about how to network and use our connections to help us move up.  We need men, not just as mentors but as advocates to fight to promote us.  And more than anything, we need women

in the room when decisions are made about how a woman is portrayed in an ad. Not just one woman, that’s only one women’s perspective. We need female producers, female creative directors, female writers and female actors committed to realistic portrayals.

Why join the SeeHer Advisory Board? All of the above. Because the girls who are watching us help build a future without gender bias expect us to boldly take our shot—and hit nothing but net.