Title IX 40 for 40: Hilary Gehman
Hilary Gehman has served as the head coach of
Cornell women’s rowing since 2007 after one year as the
interim head coach of the program. She is a two-time Olympian (2000
Sydney Games and 2004 Athens Games) and has been selected to run
the U.S. Rowing Women’s National Team Freshman Camp three
times (2008, 2009, 2011). In 2011-12, Gehman picked up her second
career CRCA Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year award after leading
Cornell to one of its best seasons, which included its second NCAA
Tournament berth and first in 10 years.
What impact has Title IX had on you?
Gehman: I was only a year old when Title IX passed, so I can't give perspective on my life before Title IX and my life after Title IX. However, I know that my life would not be the same without the opportunities that athletics has given women. My elite rowing career and my professional career would not exist without the foundation for opportunity that Title IX has laid out for women.
What effects will Title IX have for the younger generation?
Gehman: I think it will be something future generations learn about in school and it will be a foreign concept that women were not given equal opportunity in athletics. Similar to the foreign concept that women were not allowed to vote until 1920.
Do you feel that equal opportunity in intercollegiate athletics exists?
Gehman: The opportunity seems to be pretty equal, however the role that the media plays in intercollegiate athletics is still skewed toward men. I have watched the Women's Basketball Final Four on TV, but I can't think of many other sports that have been televised for women. Compare that to the men's sports that are televised - lacrosse, hockey, basketball, baseball, etc.
What is the biggest challenge to women in sports?
Gehman: I believe the biggest challenge for women in sports is at the crucial point when sports take on a competitive nature. I think boys and girls alike should engage in sports when they are young to have FUN and be active. There comes a time when sports become competitive and this is a critical time for girls. The perception that girls should not be or can't be competitive in sports is a huge challenge to overcome. This has usually sorted itself out by the time college athletics begins, but there could be many girls lost long before that. Having strong, athletic role models for young girls is crucial to show that women can and should be competitive without losing the fun in sports.