The Marquette community must take action to show that it values and cares for female student-athletes as much as they do for male student-athletes.
The average salary for women is 89% of the average salary of men in the United States; This disparity in pay reaches across all sectors of society, including in professional sports like basketball.
On average, a professional women’s basketball player in the WNBA makes $75,000 while professional men’s basketball players in the NBA make $7.7 million.
Although student-athletes at Marquette cannot get paid by the university, there is still a clear difference in how male and female athletes are treated by the university.
For example, the women’s basketball team plays in the Al McGuire Center on campus, while the men’s basketball team plays in Fiserv Forum, the arena where the Milwaukee Bucks also play. Letting the men’s basketball team play in the same stadium where a professional NBA team plays while letting women play in an on-campus arena is unfair.
Additionally, students and faculty can attend women’s basketball games for free while students and faculty have to pay for tickets for men’s basketball games. While the women’s basketball team has season tickets for sale, they are considerably less expensive than season tickets for the men’s basketball team.
For Marquette Madness, an event during Homecoming week that first introduces the men’s and women’s basketball teams at the Al McGuire Center for the season, there was a significant difference in the treatment and coverage of the players.
The men’s basketball team had their own video content producer to cover the team, while the women’s basketball team only had a photographer. When players from the men’s team came out on the court, their specific walkout songs were timed perfectly. During the women’s introductions, there were technical issues, which messed up their walkout songs.
In addition, there are also clear differences in how the men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams engage with the Marquette community.
Oftentimes, women basketball players are seen handing out flyers to students on campus to recruit volunteers who will work with them at practices, such as running drills or being a scout team. However, the men’s basketball team has specific people to help them at their practices.
There is also a disparity in the promotion of the women’s and men’s basketball teams on social media, as the men’s team has a specific contracted employee who runs their social media pages, while the women’s team does not. This disparity was clear during Marquette Madness, where the men’s team social media had behind the scene footage, while the women’s team did not.
Female athletes are just as talented as male athletes, in basketball and other sports at Marquette. The university should give them the same attention and resources, as well as encourage the Marquette community to do so as well.
Unfortunately, the discrepancy in how women and men are treated in sports reaches beyond the teams.
Marquette Athletics launched the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Plan in 2020 to foster a more inclusive environment. One of its intended goals is to “progress the hiring and retention of minority/underrepresented administration, staff, and coaches.”
While Marquette Athletics has made these commitments toward improving diversity and inclusion within the department, there is still a long way to go.
Currently, there are only two women’s head coaches for sports at Marquette: women’s basketball head coach, Megan Duffy and women’s lacrosse head coach, Meredith Black.
Additionally, there is only one female photographer and there are no female sports information directors, or people who communicate sports statistics and data to news media and the general public, for Marquette Athletics.
There is also a difference in pay among men and women coaches.
When former men’s basketball head coach Steve Wojciechowski was at Marquette, he was paid $3.1 million for the 2020 fiscal year, while women’s basketball head coach Megan Duffy was paid $603,064.
Male student-athletes, especially on the basketball team, are often idolized as celebrities on campus by Marquette students. One basketball player in particular that was idolized on campus was former Marquette basketball player Markus Howard, who graduated in 2020. This praise is not extended to female student-athletes.
The university and the Marquette community need to do better. Female athletes should be treated just as well as male athletes.
There has been some progress in this effort. At the end of September, the NCAA announced that it would start using “March Madness” branding for Division I women’s basketball teams. Before, this branding was restricted only to men’s teams.
This is a step in the right direction toward recognizing and treating women equally in sports, but there is still much to be done.
As a community, we must ensure that female athletes have the same recognition, resources and respect as male athletes.
Editorial topics by the Marquette Wire are decided at weekly meetings between members of the executive board. The editorial is crafted with leadership by the executive opinions editor. The executive board consists of the executive director of the Wire, managing editor of the Marquette Tribune, managing editor of the Marquette Journal, general manager of MUTV, general manager of MUR and ten additional top editors across the organization.