Title IX 40 for 40: Amy Bourbeau
Amy Bourbeau has served as head coach of the
Brown women’s ice hockey team since 2011, after 15 years of
coaching experience, including 12 as an assistant with the
Princeton women’s ice hockey program. Bourbeau also has
experience as a student-athlete, winning three ECAC championships
at Providence College in 1992, 1993 and 1994 and serving as team
captain her senior season.
What has Title IX done for women outside of sport?
Bourbeau: It has given young women access to higher education, employment and helped create more healthy and confident women. It has provided women with leadership skills for the workplace, and social skills for life. We now see more female doctors and engineers, and more women working in corporate America.
What impact has Title IX had on you?
Bourbeau: Playing on boy’s teams was the only opportunity I had to play sports when I was younger. I had to change in dirty bathrooms and was often treated poorly by coaches and teammates, who said “I don’t want a girl on my team.” I did not get equal playing time, on either my baseball or hockey team, and had no chance to be a team captain. Though I continued to play, it was not a healthy environment and doing so did not help me feel more confident.
I finally had the opportunity to play with women once I got to college. It was a transition period where one could see Title IX continuing to take effect. During my first year, we had tiny locker rooms, older equipment, undesirable ice times, no scholarships and poorly paid coaches. By the time I was a senior, we had a new locker room, better ice times, and some scholarship money for new athletes. It was a much healthier environment, affording me the opportunity to be in a leadership role and helping my self-confidence. My career in coaching would not have been possible without it.
What opportunities for women did Title IX help create?
Bourbeau: Title IX expanded the number of sports offered in high school and college, and helped increase the availability of scholarship money for women. Media coverage for women’s sports has grown. It has also helped create more women in the workforce. More women are now working in male dominated professions and in higher up positions. Title IX also helped change the perception of the physical abilities of women. Women can now make a living in sports and have a career in coaching.
Do you feel that equal opportunity in intercollegiate athletics exists?
Bourbeau: No, but I think we have come a long way. I believe that the total amount of money spent on female sports is still lower than money spent on male sports. Female sports get less recruiting money and fewer scholarship dollars, while female coaches continue to be paid lower salaries. I don’t believe this will ever be equal. There are very difficult challenges that athletic departments face while trying to make equal opportunities.