Friday, August 9, 2013

Without Limits Survey:: USA Ultimate Gender Equity Policy

Meagan again! When I started looking over survey data, the responses to the USAU gender equity policy questions immediately stuck out:

62% of women who took the survey were not aware of the gender equity policy before it was defined in the survey. This is pretty surprising given that 90% of respondents felt the policy either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “the USAU gender equity policy is important”.

And for the following question, “I know of a specific example when the USA Ultimate gender equity policy was used”:

I know of a specific example when the USA Ultimate gender equity policy was used

As a result, we thought we’d make this post a little more educational -

The USA Ultimate gender equity policy states:  
“In an attempt to strengthen the Ultimate community and ensure that the sport of Ultimate remains an inclusive and welcoming sport for female athletes, USA Ultimate endorses a policy of gender equity. USA Ultimate will ensure that USA Ultimate coverage and promotion of women's divisions is equal to that of the corresponding men’s division, and encourage outside partners and vendors to achieve gender equity in their coverage of and marketing to Ultimate. As long as the number of female players lags behind the number of male players, USA Ultimate will implement targeted outreach programs that strive to increase the number of female players.

USA Ultimate, in order to promote and encourage the growth of female play in USA Ultimate competition, recommends the creation of comparable teams of each gender. In situations of unequal opportunity, reasonable accommodations should be made to include female participants.” 

tl;dr: Both genders will receive equal USAU coverage, and USAU will encourage vendors and partners to do that same. This also provides language allowing for targeted female outreach programs, and allows USAU to make special accommodations to increase the number of female players if needed.

This has been in place since 2008, and on a policy level is considered fairly progressive. A few ways this has affected USAU activities:

  • Rebate for female coaches and any gender coaches of female teams for Level 1 certification
  • Conscious rotation of finals times at championship events to showcase different divisions
  • Conscious rotation of the cover photo of the magazine
  • Free kits/disc/manuals for running women's skills clinics

It is important to point out that the policy only ensures equal coverage for USAU activities, but can only encourage outside vendors to do the same. For instance, ESPN’s coverage of the US Open earlier this summer broadcasted both of the open semis, but only one each of the women’s and mixed divisions. On the other hand, the College Nationals had equal ESPN coverage for both the women’s and men’s divisions. Regardless of time on TV, these kind of decisions can also affect game scheduling, time on showcase fields, and on a larger scale, exposure to young players.

What this means is that although the policy exists and equity has historically been important to ultimate, gender equity is not necessarily a given. We will have a lot more to say on this based on your survey responses in the final report, but gender equity must be advocated for, by both women and those who support equity for women.

Any questions or comments? Feel free to leave them below. I can’t claim to be a gender equity policy expert, but I’ll do my best to answer them!

For more information regarding the policy and how it came about, I would encourage you to read through the 2008 board minutes and the 2013 board minutes when the policy was added/updated: