Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Monday establishing a new Task Force on Women in Sports.
“Multiple studies have documented that women who play sports are more likely to seek and fill leadership roles in other sectors. Yet even with the enactment of Title IX nearly fifty years ago, opportunities for girls and women in sports, while improved, remain severely limited,” the executive order states.
In the executive order, Whitmer suggests that “limitations” on female athletes “intersect with what is now a pivotal moment for gender equality and opportunity in Michigan.”
“Female athletes defy gender stereotypes, serve as role models, and widen perspectives,” the executive order continues. “This inequity in access and opportunity prevents girls and women in this state from fully accessing the benefits in leadership development that sports can provide—to the detriment of not only these girls and women, but also this state, which stands to gain from their leadership.”
The executive order establishes the “creation of the Task Force on Women in Sports,” which will be overseen by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
The task force is charged with assessing “the history of and current landscape for girls and women in sports in Michigan.” It will also be responsible for developing “recommendations for legislation, policies, investments, and programs to support and promote opportunities in Michigan for girls and women in sports.”
“The goals of these recommendations shall include yielding greater opportunities for female athletes at the youth, high school, and collegiate level, and expending professional opportunities for women leaders in sports, both on and off the field,” the executive order continues.
The task force will have until February 28, 2021 to complete its work and submit a final report to Whitmer’s office.
“Young girls and women who are participating in sports in Michigan deserve the same opportunities as their male counterparts. These possibilities extend well beyond time on the playing field,” Whitmer said in a press release. “Playing basketball in high school allowed me to develop leadership skills while learning about the importance of teamwork. When women participate in a variety of sports, it allows them to explore these meaningful opportunities.”
Benson called the new task force a “chance for Michigan to become a national model for advancing opportunities for all women to lead in every arena.”
“Sports is a great equalizer in our society, and research shows that women who play sports are more likely to seek and fill leadership positions in other sectors,” she said. “I look forward to leading this important effort and developing solutions to level the playing field in opportunities for women in sports in our state.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Gretchen Whitmer” by Gretchen Whitmer. Photo “Jocelyn Benson” by Ghanumal77. CC BY-SA 3.0