Leveling the Playing Field for Coaches

To uphold its commitment to equality, Harvard must act on the gender inequity in the coaching staff.

A troubling disparity exists between the wages of coaches of Harvard men’s and women’s sports teams. According to a recent Crimson article, the head coaches of men’s teams make, on average, over 40 percent more than the head coaches of women’s teams. Similarly, the associate coaches of men’s teams make, on average, 33 percent more than their counterparts on women’s teams. This is especially concerning given that the nominal growth of this differential has outpaced inflation since 2011.

As a leader in higher education, Harvard must maintain an enduring commitment to gender equality that manifests itself throughout the University. Paying coaches for women’s athletics less than their counterparts for men’s sports sends the harmful message that women’s sports are inferior to men’s, and thus that female athletes are inferior to male athletes. This implicitly reinforces the sexist stereotype that women are weaker and less physically capable than men. Harvard should take immediate steps to close the wage gap and demonstrate that they value their male and female student athletes equally.

We understand that outside economic forces, such as the competitiveness of wages, can influence how much Harvard pays its coaches. We hope that in response Harvard would allocate additional budgetary resources to help level the disparity. Harvard’s mission is to educate and nurture, a task that must include providing women equal opportunities. Putting gender equality into practice in athletics should come before having the most sought coaches or boosting ticket sales.

Sadly, this wage gap is not the only barrier to gender equality in Harvard athletics: the head coaches for all men’s sports teams are male, while the head coaches for half of all women’s sports teams are also male. We call on the Athletics Department to investigate this lack of gender diversity so that Harvard can work towards more parity while maintaining high quality coaching.

We urge the University to re-evaluate the system by which coaches’ wages are determined so that the wage gap shrinks and the coaching staff better reflects an equal emphasis on men’s and women’s athletics. This is especially important when Harvard next looks to hire new staff. It is critical that the University re-commit to equality on all fronts—athletics cannot be an exception.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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