Photo of Heather O’Reilly, courtesy of Heather O’Reilly.
Photo of Heather O’Reilly, courtesy of Heather O’Reilly.

Gender Inequality in Sports, with Heather O’Reilly

Photo Courtesy of Heather O’Reilly

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About This Episode

On this episode of Playing with Science, we investigate the gender bias and discrimination that’s been happening in professional sports for decades. Hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice sit down with World Cup winner, 3x Olympic gold medalist, and former USWNT soccer star Heather O’Reilly, and Andrew Zimbalist, PhD, economist and author of numerous books including Equal Play: Title IX and Social Change, The International Handbook on the Economics of Mega-Sport Events, and Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup.

We break down how and why this bias and discrimination is happening in professional sports. You’ll find out about the historical arguments in favor of unequal pay. Discover which sports are leading the charge in the fight for equality, and which sports are far behind. Andrew tells us the realities of implementing Title IX and why, especially given the definition of intercollegiate sports, everyone should be treated equally.

We explore ideas on how to develop and advance public perception about gender roles in sports. Andrew weighs in on the lawsuit brought forth by players from the US Women’s National Team against US Soccer. You’ll learn how the media plays a part in the vicious cycle of bias and discrimination and how they could stop reinforcing the status quo.

Heather takes us on her journey from youth star to national team hero, and her experience with inequality along the way. Heather shares why watching the 1999 World Cup was a big inspiration to her 14-year-old self. You’ll also learn why she considers herself a product of Title IX. You’ll hear how she handled being a player on the US Women’s National Team when she was just 17-years-old. She also tells us about her experiences in US Soccer and how there has been institutionalized bias and discrimination for decades.

Lastly, find out more about Heather’s work with Athlete Ally, a nonprofit LGBTQ+ athletic advocacy group that focuses on making athletic communities more inclusive and less discriminatory and helps athletes advocate for LGBTQ+ equality. All that, plus Heather explains why soccer is one of the most important vehicles for social change, and she gives advice to young people preparing to take on the world. 

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Gender Inequality in Sports, with Heather O’Reilly.

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