A Basic Timeline of Women in Sport

Before Title IX, women did play sports. Sometimes they participated in organized teams, but not at the same level of competition as we see today. Women across the world did play at one point or another. Rarely, was their participation given mass attention. The rise of television and the expansion of mass media gave athletic women more exposure than ever before. This is a general timeline of women’s involvement in sports. There are gaps, because data from the ancient world may be partially lost. Men’s athletic talents were praised and documented, but women’s feats were either ignored or ostracized .

Women in Sport (776 B.C.E-2015)

  • 776 B.C.E – Women are banned from the Olympics, but could participate in The Games of Hera.
  • 396 B.C.E- Kyniska  wins the Olympic chariot races. even though she is a Spartan princess she was not allowed to receive her prize.
  • 1406- Dame Juliana Berners produces writings about fishing as a sport. This was during the time of middle ages in Britain.
  • 1552-Mary Queen of Scots was know to play golf  and allegedly coined the term caddy.
  • 1722- Elizabeth Wilkinson becomes one of the first professional women’s pugilist. This was in Great Britain, which had a long history of boxing.
  • 1804- Allica Meynell  becomes the first woman jocky.
  • 1811-The first women’s golf tournament was held in Scotland.
  • 1856-Catherine Beecher publishes an exercise manual for women. It is called Physiology and Calisthenics for Schools and Families.
  • 1874- Mary Outerbridge brings tennis to the United States. Prior to this, it was mostly played in the European countries.
  • 1900- Margret Abbott become the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal. This was in golf.
  • 1912- Women’s events are officially  added to the Olympics.
  • 1923- The women’s division of the NAAF is formed. It was designed to promote physical fitness and stop exploitative behavior by certain sports promoters.
  • 1926- Gertrude Ederle successfully swam the English Channel.
  • 1932- Babe Didrikson Zaharis  sets three world records at the Olympics. Tidye Pickett and Louise Strokes become the first African American women to be placed on a US team.
  • 1948- Alice Coachman becomes the first African American woman to win a gold medal. This was when she set a record in high jump.
  • 1957- Althea Gibson becomes the first African American woman to win the Wimbledon  tennis tournament.
  • 1960- Wilma Rudolph wins three gold  medals in track and field events. she becomes the first woman to do so.
  • 1974- The first issue of Women’s Sports magazine is published. this is significant because rarely women athletes were covered by the press.
  • 1987- The first observance of National Girls and Women in Sports Day in the United States.
  • 1991- Judith Sweet becomes the first female president of the NCAA.
  • 1996- Women’s soccer and softball are added to the summer Olympics.
  • 2002- Thirty years of Title IX and women’s participation in sports increased dramatically. It was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act  in the late senator’s honor.
  • 2012- Women’s participation in the Olympics reaches a new apex.
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A Basic Timeline of Women in Sport

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