Penn Carey Law students explore issues affecting women’s equality in sports

Penn Carey Law students explore issues affecting women’s equality in sports

By Jay Nachman

Under the guidance of Rangita De Silva De Alwis, senior adjunct professor of global leadership, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School students have authored an insightful report that examines various issues concerning women’s equality in sports.

Putting Women Back in the Game” seeks to promote change and build toward a better future for women in sports, according to the report’s lead editor and Penn Carey Law student Robert Kirschenbaum, and co-editor Grace Lange, who also serves as president of Penn Carey Law’s Entertainment and Sports Law Society.

The report was widely shared with UN Women and the Sporting Chance Forum 2023 on the future of sports and human rights, which was convened in early December at the Palais des Nations in Geneva to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“You would search men’s sports and all the headlines would be these accomplishments and achievements, like a championship or a team record or a personal record. But when you search women’s sports, you’re just constantly seeing some sort of sexual harassment or some sort of issue they face whether it be with pay or uniforms or maternity leave,” says Kirschenbaum. “There’s a lot of issues that we were seeing that were at the forefront of our research that you wouldn’t necessarily see with men’s sports.”

As the report states, “Even when women do receive coverage of their sports, the broadcasters and news headlines often undermine their accomplishments and put the spotlight on the larger sports world or even male counterparts, as if the accomplishment being done by a woman was something out of the ordinary.”

The report is a project of de Silva de Alwis’s Women, Law, and Leadership class, a platform for students to test ideas and a space to ask questions about the underrepresentation of women in leadership and how that hurts the global economy, hampers the diversity of thought, and undermines the public good. The class concept is for students to research and develop a wide range of policy initiatives on women’s leadership.

“I think this past year in America, especially at the college level, we’ve seen this emergence of interest and leadership and attention on women’s sports and how it’s empowering female athletes and how those female athletes, whether it’s those in the WNBA or those playing Division I basketball are using their platforms for good and becoming leaders,” says Lange.