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September 04, 2018 - Image 24

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The Michigan Daily

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8C — Fall 2018
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com

Female athletics in
sports media

Just as ticket prices appear
to impact the public’s opinion
of women’s sports, so does the
sports media. There is little to no
coverage of women’s athletics and
that leads to a lack of investment,
interest and education on the
part of the public. It becomes
extremely difficult to generate
support when the big influencers
in sports media disregard any
important events that happen
in the female athletics world. In
fact, the only time there is any
significant coverage of women’s
sporting events is during the
Olympics and the World Cup.
This becomes more obvious
during March Madness. The
men’s and women’s tournaments
run side by side, yet the men’s
tournament receives all of the
media attention. In fact, I cannot
recall a single time during the
tournaments when I turned on
ESPN and they were talking
about the women’s tournament.
For example, Sister Jean and the
Loyola men’s basketball team
received an extreme amount
of media attention and were
constantly in the conversation
while the Notre Dame women’s
basketball team received no
that they beat the undefeated
University of Connecticut team
in the Final Four, and Arike
Ogunbowale went on to hit a
buzzer beater to win it all. Of
course, the Loyola team and their
chaplain deserved attention as
they were a fantastic Cinderella
story, but perhaps some of the
time spent covering them could
have been better spent on the
women’s tournament.
accompanies the lack of media
coverage is that it becomes very
difficult to find articles and
news about women’s sports.

Even if someone is interested
in reading articles and news on
female athletics it takes at least
five to 10 minutes of digging to
find something interesting or
relevant. For example, women’s
sports receive only 4 percent of
all sports media coverage and big
sources like SportsCenter only
devoted 1 percent of their on-air
time to women’s athletics.
This lack of representation
becomes a huge problem for
young female athletes as well.
With so little media coverage,
young girls struggle to find role
models in their various sports. It
is important that young athletes
have someone they can look up
to and relate to who encourages
them to keep going and proves
to them they can accomplish big
things. Because this is so absent
for female athletes, it may make it
harder for young girls to feel like
it’s worth it to continue to pursue
their athletic careers. This leads
to a higher rate of young girls who
stop playing sports and therefore
lose the many benefits that come
from playing a sport such as
higher self-esteem, positive body
image, and lower anxiety levels.
All sports were unpopular
at one point or another. It all
comes down to exposure and
marketing. Once women’s sports
are given more coverage and the
public becomes more exposed
to the women’s sports world,
these sports will become more
popular. When women’s sports
become more popular, people
will become more educated on
the topic. When people become
more educated on the topic, the
ability to close the pay gap and
other inequalities is no longer
an impossible task, but rather a
goal that can be accomplished.
When sports media starts to
devote more of its time to female
athletes, the fight for equality
will become far less difficult and


The struggle for diversty in physics

For much of its history, physics
has been dominated by white men.
Most well-known constants and
equations are named after them,
and when someone says “physicist,”
what usually comes to mind is
a white man. The stereotype is
deeply rooted in the homogenous
history of academia, but as our
country and institutions become
more diverse, shouldn’t the world
of physics follow?
Sadly, this has not been the case.
According to the 2016 population
estimates based on the 2010
U.S. census, 17.8 percent of the
population identifies as Hispanic
or Latino and 13.3 percent of the
population identifies as Black
or African American. However,
according to statistics from the
American Institute of Physics, only
about 3.9 percent of the bachelor’s
degrees in physics were awarded
to African Americans and only 7.6
percent to Hispanics.
To better understand the issue,
I interviewed Brian Beckford, a
presidential postdoctoral fellow
here at the University of Michigan,
to learn more about his own
experience as a physicist of color,
and an active advocate for diversity
in STEM. His research concerns
nuclear and particle physics.
International University, he was
initially interested in philosophy.
limited in the answers it could
provide him for the types of
questions he had about how the
universe works, and Beckford
decided to switch his major to
FIU boasts one of the most
diverse student bodies in the
country, but Beckford still found
himself an outsider after switching
“My friends and I joked that
I was the best Black student in
physics because I was the only
Black student in the physics
department at the time,” Beckford

department was never actively
promoting diversity was never
talked about. It was not seen as a
priority of the department at the
Due to the fact that the
traditional social and professional
spheres of physics have not always
strived to be inclusive, those who
have been left on the outskirts
have managed by creating their
own spaces in which they could
feel welcome in a community.
The National Society of Black
Physicists was formed in 1977, and
since its inception has worked
toward improving the experiences
of Black physicists. Each year,
NSBP hosts a national conference
celebrating accomplishments by
Black physicists from every field of
physics. Beckford first attended this
conference early in his graduate
studies and goes back each year as
his schedule allows.
“My faculty advisor at FIU
and really good friend to this day,
Professor Joerg Reinhold, German
by descent, directed me towards
the NSBP conference,” Beckford
said. “(The conference) gave me
some hope that there is a chance,
and there is a space for physicists
of color. I realized there would be a
place for me in the field.”
Though conferences such as the
NSBP meeting are well advertised
and universities, they are not as
talked about at institutions that
are historically white. Helping
to increase awareness of these
kinds of opportunities is one way
institutions such as ours can create
a more welcoming, supportive
environment for people from all
different backgrounds.
“This year I am trying to
encourage the department that
we can attend the conference as a
source of recruiting a more diverse
group of students into the graduate
program,” Beckford said.
In addition to his work as a
researcher, as the department’s
diversity, equity and inclusion

committee chair, Beckford devotes
as much time as he can to finding
new ways the department can be
more inclusive by bringing his
experience as a project manager
for the American Physical Society
Bridge Program.
Many of Beckford’s proposed
changes and improvements are
focused on the recruitment of
short-term projects, such as the
new recruitment brochure. It
highlights the inclusive ideals of
the department. It is small, but
Long-term projects are in the
works, but will take more time,
as they require more cooperation
department before these changes
are seen as necessary in order to
create a stronger, more diverse
physics program at the University.
I was also curious about what
Beckford thought could be done
to increase representation among
undergraduate students.
undergrad degree would be a
great way to bring more diversity
into the undergrad program,” he
said. “Particularly among first-
generation students and students
of color, there is a feeling of a need
to give back, not only to their
community, but to their family that
might be sacrificing a lot for them to
be there.”
I agree with Beckford, and a
physics degree is really what you
make it. You can put it to use many
different ways. You can work in
industry, research the frontiers of
science in academia, affect social
change as a teacher or community
leader and much more. This is what
makes a physics degree so exciting.
Once a school succeeds in
recruiting a diverse student base,
the next challenge is retainment.
According to the Office of the
Registrar 2016 report, of the
University in 2012, 14.1 percent
of those from underrepresented
minority groups have left the

University without finishing a
degree. When comparing this with
the 8 percent from all other groups
that have left without finishing
a degree, one can see the lack of
inclusion most certainly plays a
role in the discrepancy. We must
recognize we can make the campus
and departments more welcoming
for everyone.
“The hard part is we have to
change people’s mindset, and that
diversity and inclusion is important
for science,” Beckford said. “It’s
people who do the science, so it
follows that if you want the best
science, you get the best people
from all groups, and not just one.”
Academia is not always known
for its adaptability, and tradition
still plays a major role in how
institutions and departments run.
It can be tough to get every decision
maker on board, as not everyone
believes that a change is needed at
all. However, this way of thinking
goes against what we are trying to
do in science, which is to advance
human thought and make new
discoveries. So even though old
styles of mentoring and teaching
might have worked when there
was one majority group, we need
to make improvements on how we
do things and take every new factor
into account.
Beckford, I began to think about
how critical it is to be more inclusive
in the sciences. I feel it is especially
important in today’s political and
social climate to ensure that science
is a beacon of inclusivity, of higher
thinking and unlimited possibility,
where all are welcome to create,
discover and succeed.
At the end of our talk, Beckford
asked, “How many great ideas were
lost to fear, hate, and intolerance?”
Too many to count, I would
imagine. As we are those who strive
towards higher understanding, we
must never let untapped potential
be wasted because of the fear of
change or the lack of willingness
to allocate resources and time to
undertake the challenge. We can
spark this change, right here, right
now, at the University.


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