Imagine a sports media classroom full of men, where the conversation is sustained by “bro culture” easily found in the world of sports. Now imagine being a woman in this classroom, or holding any other identity counter to the dominating bro-y archetype: uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, fear and exclusion take hold. And now remember that Ithaca College stakes its claim on inclusion and diversity. The gender gap in the Ithaca College sports media degree is glaring and should not get comfortable in this light.
The program became a part of the Roy H. Park School of Communications in Fall 2017, with just 10 out of 51 members being female. Prior to this transition the sports media program was in the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance in the Department of Sport Management and Media. As of Fall 2021, only 10.9% of women make up the major after the program’s relocation.
What is the cause for these concerning and limited numbers of women in the sports media program? Why aren’t the results matching the efforts being made in the recruitment process? In fact, what efforts are being made by the administration to recruit more women into the major? The dynamics about the program’s enrollment efforts need to be made transparent so professors and students can provide insight, recommendations and suggestions to help close the gender gap and make this learning experience truly inclusive.
While students wait for larger administrative action to be taken, it is necessary for them to prioritize the education they want: it is the role of the students to dispel narratives that perpetuate inequality. Raising class discussions of women’s sports at an equal rate to men’s sports is feasible. While current culture cannot be changed and the gender gap cannot be closed all in a day, it is on students to be thoughtful participants of the day-to-day conversations to help generate a nuanced discussion and overall education that everyone deserves.