On Dreaming and Practice: Donna Lopiano, Defender of Women's Rights for Four Decades

On Dreaming and Practice: Donna Lopiano, Defender of Women's Rights for Four Decades

I call Donna “the Mother Teresa of gender equity in sport” because she selflessly and tirelessly serves the invisible, the under-resourced, and/or embattled. A true changemaker uses their talents for what is needed, and Donna has consistently shown us that this is who she is. Just how far we have to go to reach gender equity in sport is more alive a topic than ever since we heard the testimonies from the Olympic gymnastics team in January.

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On Dreaming and Practice: Moments I’ve Been Personally Inspired by Gloria Steinem

On Dreaming and Practice: Moments I’ve Been Personally Inspired by Gloria Steinem

But there is something incredible about hearing an icon like Steinem state something as simple and powerful as “get her involved in sports.” This is a statement that hundreds of women’s sports activists, athletes, feminists, coaches, teachers, and researchers have said for decades. But here we were in 2010 and here was Gloria Steinem at a funky off-broadway theater in New York again stating the obvious…

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Reflecting my Values: Who I Give To and Why When I Make a Charitable Gift

Reflecting my Values: Who I Give To and Why When I Make a Charitable Gift

In my career, I have met women leaders and organizations who emulate my mother’s strong values for hard work, generosity, respect, and a cultivated curiosity. As a donor, board member, or coach, I'm attracted to opportunities when I resonate with a leader who mirrors these values.

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Why Moving Millions to Women and Girls Must Include Work on Embodied Leadership

Why Moving Millions to Women and Girls Must Include Work on Embodied Leadership

Embodied leadership is a way of being in the world that allows one to seamlessly integrate the lessons of the body learned through healthy movement and competition: risk, courage, anxiety, fear, the art of fundamentals, achievement and failure in everyday living, and decision-making. Girls and women who actively practice these lessons are more likely to successfully and graciously make “healthier” decisions—emotionally, relationally, and intellectually.

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Why A Single Narrative About the 19th Amendment Does Us All an Injustice​​​​​​​

The danger of a single narrow narrative for civil rights policy or legislation such as Title IX and suffrage expansion is that it diminishes the power that it can hold for millions of individuals.

Last year on July 26th, a major political party officially nominated a woman as their presidential candidate for the first time. Hillary Clinton, dressed in all white (a nod to the suffrage movement), accepted the nomination and made history. Accepting the nomination was far from the first step in women’s liberation. Rather it was a celebration of a long and calculated movement of determined women. And then the 2016 election happened.

Clinton’s nod to the suffragistswas a reminder of the history, pain, and work they put into passing the 19th amendment that must not be forgotten or glazed over as simply ”the right to vote”.  Similar to Title IX being seen as the “sports law”, the 19th amendment and the Education Amendments Act had broader goals for women and for society. Both laws represent so much more than they appear and learning more about their purpose and true intent can help lead us to further progress towards women’s equality.

In 1848, the suffrage movement began with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organizing the Seneca Falls Convention, inspired by their trip to an Anti-Slavery Convention. This was a coming together and a call for all women’s civil rights, even beyond voting. The official document, the Declaration of Sentiments, called for expansion and recognition of equal rights to women, including suffrage. Modeled after the Declaration of Independences, it shares qualities of the Equal Rights Amendment. The document stated that a woman was man’s equal, called for expansion of educational opportunities, and inclusion of women to all career fields. Ironically, during the convention, women’s suffrage was the only resolve that was not unanimously passed.

In the context of the legislative process and societal norms, activists and suffragists used the energy from this convention as a catalyst to lobby states to ratify a woman’s right to vote, which was a significant step in women’s emancipation. Twenty-one states had ratified this policy before the federal government passed the 19th Amendment for women’s suffrage in 1920. The 19th Amendment simply says: “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

Though its meaning clear, this amendment did not allow for all women to vote. It wasn’t until 1947 that Native American women got the right to vote, in 1952 the policy began including Asian women, and finally, in 1965, the Voting Rights Act gave Black women the right vote.


Facebook's Women's Equality Day Image Last Year. A number of these women however did not have the right with the 19th Amendment.

Facebook's Women's Equality Day Image Last Year. A number of these women however did not have the right with the 19th Amendment.


As Evette Dionne noted in her piece “Women’s Suffrage Leaders Left Out Black Women” for Teen Vogue, “Black women publicly fought for their right to vote, and often. In her 1867 speech at the American Equal Rights Association, Sojourner Truth argued that giving black men the right to vote without affording black women the same right only promoted black men's dominance.” Acknowledging the full story and history of the 19th Amendment helps us see how much we have to do to achieve racial and gender justice collectively.

Much like the 19th Amendment and voting, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act, goes beyond the sports label that it has been given. Passed in 1972, Title IX prohibits sex based discrimination in educational settings. While this expanded opportunities for athletics, it also prohibits discrimination against pregnant/parenting students, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, sexual harassment, and inequitable access to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs and resources.

In June, Title IX celebrated its 45th anniversary, but only a few years ago did the U.S. Office for Civil Rights (OCR) focus on the STEM pillar or respond to the pleas of rape victims speaking up on college campuses. Finally, OCR is providing definitive instructions on how to apply Title IX to prosecute and end sexual assault in educational institutions. We must mobilize resources in support of all of the areas in which Title IX was intended.   

Equitable funding for women in schools through congressional legislation is much easier to implement than a constitutional amendment on equal rights for women. But the connections between the Declaration of Sentiments, Equal Rights Amendment, the 19th Amendment, Title IX, and Education Amendments Act can all be tangibly strung together by a movement with a clearly focused purpose; full equality and recognition of women in society.

In recognizing this history, we must expand the use of our language around Title IX and the 19th Amendment to open the door for institutional and policy change that women in the suffrage movement identified 160 years ago as their end goal. Beyond wearing white, let’s think of what might we all do to bring a movement for equal rights to fruition including protecting voting rights, particularly for communities of color. In 2020, perhaps a woman President will be able to channel Alice Paul’s spirit to get the final ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment pushed through after 93 years of waiting for our due.  

 

Tuti Scott, philanthropy consultant and coach, was co-CEO of the Women's Sports Foundation. She is a second wave intersectional feminist and lifelong point guard and will play in any game that has gender equality as a goal.

Jessica Avery works as the social media coordinator for Imagine Philanthropy. Having studied politics and gender studies at Mount Holyoke College, Jessica works on policy issues surrounding education, the environment, and women's rights and is a proud intersectional millennial feminist.

45 Years Later, Three Social Justice Movement Building Lessons from Title IX

People forget how transformative Title IX was—not just for women and girls, but for all of society. We tend to think of Title IX only in its relationship to sports. I get it. But there is a rich history there and we need to remember how Title IX’s implications extend into every other arena of life.

As part of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX states: 

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Think about that. With all of the work our country needed to do, Title IX set women and girls, and our nation, on an entirely new path. Title IX was a win for our society and the 21st century. 

I remind people that Title IX was established so that women could go to college and pursue advanced degrees. This was one of the first ways women gained access to power by drastically expanding their career options. The absolute intent of Title IX is protecting women and girls from sexual harassment, protecting pregnant women from discrimination, and ensuring that women and girls have access to education and training in male-dominated STEM fields. Women can now study medicine, law, or finance, rather than being limited to being teachers and social workers. 

Title IX was then and is today about expanded opportunity, and yes, justice.

Today, on the 45th anniversary of Title IX, with too many Black and Brown lives lost to state violence, justice must be at the forefront of our conversations. In May, Kimberlé Crenshaw, the scholar and critical race theorist who coined the term intersectionality, spoke about the interconnectedness of our movements. She said, “We need to have better ways of talking across movements.” 

Here are three lessons that I’ve learned from a life and career steeped in Title IX and women’s philanthropy that we can put to use in our connected movements for gender, racial and even, dare I say, economic justice.

1) Leadership and justice is never a zero sum game.

We have a president who is obsessed with winning and losing. But athletes know this—you never play just to win. You train hard for years, develop your skills out of respect for everyone involved, and foster a rapport with other players. And winning isn’t always correlated with performance. Mr. Trump may think leadership is about winning, but it’s about something much bigger-excellence, integrity, and sportsmanship to start. Outcomes that matter to people, outcomes that change the course of history, and outcomes that change what is possible. And I for one believe in the potential of the human spirit.

Why does this matter? When you think there is a finite amount of money, power, or justice – aptly reframed as love according to the wise Dr. Monique Morris - to go around, everyone suffers for it. There are still people who don’t support Title IX today, for example, because of the myth that when we invest in women’s and girls’ programs, for example, boys lose out. History proves that this isn’t true. Title IX continues to teach us that there’s enough room for girls and boys to succeed.

What can this teach us about other movements for social justice? That no one movement fights in isolation. We must fight alongside of and for the most marginalized communities among us, just as others have fought alongside the Women’s Movement, Civil Right, Gay Rights, etc. Clearly, we must know by now that publicly supporting Black Lives Matterdoesn’t mean that another community is going to lose.

2) Exercising and using our bodies is a primary tool in the empowerment of voice.

And the more we use our voice, the more we feel at home in our bodies. I call this embodied leadership. I have found this relationship between voice and body to be true through the spectrum of my life – as an athlete, a lover, and a cancer and heart disease patient. This is why with every activist I engage with, I encourage being fully present with your body. Whatever your body looks like, whatever your body can do. You are more powerful than you know.

Women Win’s research tells us that sports assists in the prevention of gender-based violence. Through sports, and I would infer through embodied leadership of all expressions, women and girls:

  1. Learn how to ask for help
  2. Encourage boundary setting
  3. Build courage

Many of the things I see women struggle with as a result of living in this culture—not going to bat for ourselves or others, apologizing too much, competing against women we could and should be supporting—these things live in the body, too. We can transform them using the leadership and teamwork skills we learn through the model from sports. We can transform them by stepping into and standing in our power. Whether or not you play sports now or if you were lucky to grow up playing sports, remember that you have access to using your voice. Leadership at every level is embodied, and we need to start teaching it in an embodied way. Marching regularly works as does using your power stance…daily.

3) We have to find more ways to tap into our empathy.

There are a million reasons to encourage women’s full participation in every sector of society. Again, looking just at sports, we know that when girls play sports, they go on to have more positive experiences in every sphere of life: their home, workplace, and community. Health benefits of movement and sports are crystal clear. Women who benefited from playing sports have an 8% higher wage premium and are 20% more likely to be in the workforce. We know companies are more profitable when women are in leadership positions, and more than half of all top female executives played sports in college. In other words, women’s participation in sports helps women get to the highest levels of leadership and prepares them for success in spaces previously dominated only by men. 

But beyond all of these reasons, making sure women and girls have access to sports is simply the right thing to do. Each time a father goes to bat for his daughter using Title IX protections under the law, he is going to bat for young women everywhere. Each time we throw our support behind a woman colleague who asks for equal funding for her programs or challenges sexual harassment in the workplace, we go to bat for all women. The history of Title IX teaches us what justice and empathy looks like in practice. We demonstrate empathy by fighting for another person’s humanity. By showing up and being willing to do it… because it’s the right thing to do.

We need the lessons of Title IX now more than ever. While there is so much more work for equity, Title IX has helped create the conditions of fairness for women and girls. We have to ask ourselves, what conditions do we need to create now—what laws, systems, and practices do we need to change, to make gender and racial justice, and yes, economic justice a reality?

Degrading the Fearless Girl: Why People Lean on Misogyny for Progress

On May 29th 2017, an artist created and positioned a urinating dog, “Pissing Pug,” next to the “Fearless Girl” statue situated in front of the famous Wall Street “Charging Bull.” 

He said his goal was “spreading awareness about the corporate origins of the statue” and to highlight the negative aspects of Wall Street. A nod that we need to move away from the greedy origins of Wall Street and do away with these corporate types all together. 

Looking at the piece, I wonder: Why did this male artist wait for a female-commissioned piece of a little girl to make his statement? 

A dog, in a degrading act, towards a young girl is appalling, but it also speaks to a bigger issue in movement building. Misogyny, hatred towards women and/or girls, is common in movements because there is still a lack of understanding of intersectionality and how change can be created for the benefit of all, including the lived experiences of all. 

Let’s look at the history of both statues. State Street Corporation (which has a gender lens investing initiative) commissioned the “Fearless Girl” piece in honor of International Women’s Day, though it wasn’t a permanent fixture. There was much uproar around the statue. The Charging Bull’s creator expressed his dismay, as well as many people calling it an advertising ploy or feel good act for companies who exclude women. I was one of the people who saw this artwork as an amazing opportunity to open up the dialogue around the capital that women own as well as the fact that we need more women in financial boardrooms. 

In contrast, the Charging Bull was paid for by the artist and put up after the 1987 stock market crash as a symbol of the people’s strength and power. If that were truly the case, however, if that were truly a value we hold dear, the Fearless Girl would simply be an addition to that—a symbol of women’s strength and power to the investment industry that the bull has come to represent. 

According to a 2017 Catalyst report, women hold just 29 (5.8%) of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies. A 2015 Morningstar report cited by The World Economic Forum found that women manage less than 2% of mutual fund assets and “nearly two thirds of the top 71 Silicon Valley venture capital funds have no senior female investment professionals, according to the Social & Capital Partnership. I could continue, but the picture is clear: Women are not part of the high level conversations around investments. The investment industry desperately needs women’s strength and power. 

A 2009 study from the Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy tells us that “women will inherit 70% of the money that gets passed down over the next two generations” (excludes the increasing amounts they earn on their own) and women already own more than half of the investable assets in the U.S. Our money is good enough to trade, make more money off, and reinvest, but adding us to the (white male) boy’s club is taking far too long. What’s the problem with “Pissing Pug?” Instead of addressing the real issues with Wall Street, it was easier for this artist to undermine art that is speaking to millions and helping to bring about important changes in a male-dominated industry. Women should not be used as a prop to push an agenda. They should be a critical part of the conversation and be driving the conversation. Like the system or not, we have every right to it and a say in where our money is going and what’s been done with it. 

Many companies and initiatives, such as Pax Ellevate FundEquileapEconomic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) or State Street’s Gender Diversity ETF, are changing the narrative about women, leadership and investing. If we continue to dismiss women leaders or push women aside, which the dog statue undoubtedly does, no true change can occur with how, where, and to whom our money goes.

Identity: Try and Dismiss It

This rhythmic rant was originally written after the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.  At the time, it felt too raw to publish then, but in light of the Gavin Grimm case, Texas gender inequality bills, Governors and Judges who are homophobic and many other LGBTQIA dismissals and injustices, I no longer have the privilege to stay silent. 

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How can being gay be compared to fear of flying or spiders or crowds?  There is no phobia of gays and lesbians any more – there is only ignorance, self-loathing and fear. 

I am from despair to righteousness swearing quietly to complacent privileged people.  I am from claiming space and truth.  I have marched for rights for women, for access to sport, for our right to choose, for our right to love.  I have given money for and to women leaders, been in the trenches working on behalf of women athletes.  I am from an activist mother who brought forth these skills.   

I am from the particles that make up the bed I lie on as well as every idea and word that collides inside my body and mind.  I am from atoms – free flowing energy and movement.  I am from protons and neutrons. 

My mind lives throughout my body hammering inside my heart, whimpering in my belly and starch drying my womb.  I push and pull the particles depending on the wind, levels of self-compassion and the biochemistry of the day.  A chemstrip is dipped into my chest like a chlorine pool test measuring my systems of hardness, alkalinity, and today, my sugars and testosterone.  I am from lowered estrogen and highly elevated provocative words and acts.

My journey has included a stop or two to reboot my heart and reset my rhythm, flatten my chest, clear ugly growths and tighten up my knee.  All of my particles are moving now – fully alert and radicalized.  I wonder why my protons are so sensitive to violence and hate?  Why do my particles crave tenderness and kindness?  There are others who use the quantum physics of their atoms to hurt, violate and even kill.  Who or what rearranged their innocent baby minds from affluence, love and potential to fear, anger and despair? 

I am from the gay rights movement of the 80’s and 90’s – AIDS and siloed thinking and work.  I am the daughter of Susan.  I chose my own name Tuti at age 5 --- it means we all play together.  Fitting for this intersectional humanist/feminist.  My atoms have been complacent as they hyper focused on healing for a decade.  Now they make up the design of a test strip to mark levels of sexism in a person’s psyche.  The marker on my chem strip is dark red and bloody mad. 

I am the daughter and granddaughter of artists and teachers – why wouldn’t my genes have cell memory of the themes of uprising?  My epigenetic being is so tired of the lack of love and lack of acceptance, tired of bias and bigotry, tired of people’s rush to judge, tired of laws written because people have a ‘phobia’ of who I love, tired of people who hurt and threaten ‘other’. 

I am from dumpsters of kindness and righteous hope standing proudly with dignity.  When they put the chemstrip into my heart to test my levels today, they will find that balance and serenity have silenced any opposition.  I am a spiritual being having a human experience.   My atoms recognize their affinity with atoms in my fellow marginalized beings. I am the belief in attracting strong, powerful allies who will step out of their privilege and speak up for us.  Join me.

Broader Thinking on Family Economic Security

After having the privilege of being part of several meetings with leaders in the field of economic security for families, I learned that this work has many viewpoints and challenges. This summary attempts to capture the breadth of opportunity for broadening the conversation of family economic security. 

Overall, the key components that encompass family economic security (FES) are identified as fulfillment of primary needs such as food and shelter, access to a health care system that serves both one’s self and family, ability to enter and navigate in a variety of markets (financial, employment, social capital) and opportunity for career advancement/education that is relevant to workforce success. 

Generally speaking, family economic security seems to have a qualitative texture for impacted individuals and practitioners working directly with them, and a more quantitative and numerically positioned flavor when policy people define it. Framing the conversation in poverty language versus economics language or referring to families versus systems also may bring forth differing perspectives. 

In a qualitative sense, FES success would be defined by a family staying together (children not placed in foster care), free from violence and addiction, and living with dignity and respect. True success would be a break in the generational transference of low‐income standing. Assessing success could also hinge on an individual’s having social capital and networks that offer varying choices and opportunities for work and learning opportunities. Finally, success could be seeing fewer disparities around income and education when looking across class, gender or race. 

Quantitatively, the metrics rely on index tools that have been developed to look at either what it takes to get and stay in the middle class on a continuum based on five economic factors, or measuring and benchmarking expenses based on a self sufficiency standard in their state (see Wider Opportunities for Women). These measures may or may not be universally acceptable as there seems to be a divide as to whether self sufficiency would be determined with or without public supports. Regardless of how it is measured, there is considerable demand for better government data to analyze. 

Sustained security is founded in the tools of early education and ‘talent development,’ literacy, relevant career training for ‘entry level’ workers, lifelong education around financial decisions and markets, and access to quality jobs that offer standards such as health care, paid sick leave, retirement, etc. Most people working in FES policy and/or programmatic delivery of any of these tools agree that we need to take a holistic approach (versus staying in silos), and that this alone will allow for a faster ‘movement’ towards the self‐sufficiency of low‐income families. 

Addressing the issues surrounding “asset‐based poverty” and debt is critical for FES success. Campaigns focused on predatory lending need to be offset with elevating the visibility of free opportunities for moving towards financial independence that are often provided by community based organizations. Providing practical learning experiences focused on financial decision‐making is happening in various Community Development Financial Institutions. Identifying, and elevating the role of entrepreneurs is also important as people often need ’to see it to be it.’

Eight Principles for Systemic Change

Philanthropists and leaders take on issues that they want to change.  Using our time, talent and treasure, we want to make a positive impact on people’s lives and society.   We have witnessed the years  it often takes to better the world whether it is to addressing the trafficking of children, lifting up the economic power of women,  building a culture that accepts women athletes, allowing anyone who loves another to marry who they choose, etc.  These victories (albeit some of them still a work in progress) are stellar to witness done well.   Serious change happens for the good when people focus on these key principles. 

1.     Be persistent and passionate.  Find as many ways to restore and renew your passion as possible.  Energy for the long game is a necessary ingredient. 

2.     Remove the ego and attack the issue.   Focus on the issue and not about any one organization claiming the victory.  

3.     Use the legal system.  Oftentimes it is the laws and policies that are written and/or enforced that need to be upheld that will have the broadest impact on the highest number of people.  Investing in advocacy and policy work is a game changer for most issues.. 

4.     Collaborate and play team.  Find likely and unlikely partners who will share in the work and are willing to keep the focus on the change you all seek to make. 

5.     Hire top level experts.  When necessary, outside researchers, policy leaders or spokespeople can shape and craft messages and garner new audiences. 

6.     Gather hard data to share.  By using quality research and facts that can’t be dismissed, the emotion about the issue can be dampened.  Let the numbers tell the story and now with infographics, the images can bring the data to life. 

7.     Leverage every outlet for storytelling.  Social media gives ample opportunity to showcase the ‘stories’ and people who make the issue you are addressing come to life.

8.     Use your wealth and “clout”.  Be willing to invest for the long term and find funders who understand this.  

What I Would Tell My 18-year-old Self

In the fall of 1980, as I left New Hampshire to go to Ithaca College in upstate New York, one of a handful of students in my class who would leave the state for college and the first of my siblings to pursue a four year degree, I wish I had the certainty to have known the following:

  1. That deeply loving women and being a lesbian is a magical, powerful, loving, brave, acceptable way of being in the world no matter what anyone says to you or how isolating it may feel at times.                                                                                                                                                                                             
  2. That the love you have for basketball, competing and being the coach on the floor will place you in settings you could never dream of to promote women athletes as leaders and to help shape the women’s sports movement.                                                                                                                        
  3. That owning your confidence as a ‘spiritual jock’ and a coach will drive your success in board rooms, as an entrepreneur, a leader, a partner and as a speaker for and about equity, gender and money.                                                                                                                                                                       
  4. That keeping a journal and writing your goals, prayers and ideas down is a healing activity for a busy, bold mind and will guide your success in unknown ways.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  5. That having a spiritual practice of moving your body, meditating and being in nature may not seem ‘normal’ but who cares; it will serve you through the deaths of your parents and loved ones, many health challenges and other unimaginable losses and heartaches that come your way.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  6. That learning happens with real time exposure to people, conversations, countries and challenges.  Books, degrees and good grades are important but real life lessons will be found when you get out and share your authentic curiosity and explore new arenas.                                          
  7. That unconditional giving and being generous and compassionate with others leads to sustainable happiness and immense self-satisfaction.

Why It's Okay to Be Called a Tomboy

A colleague of mine, Liz Wolfson, started a school for girls in Colorado that has movement as a core component of the mission. The Girls Athletic Leadership School (GALS) curriculum is based on research showing that the more your body’s engaged, the better your mind can function.

Imagine what our lives would be like if we integrated movement, wellness, healthy foods, and athletics into every aspect of our day? In a culture where gender norms have 10-year-old girls in dresses and 10-year-old boys in football pads, we need more places where girls are encouraged to be confident and physically expressive.

By the time a girl is 17, she’s seen more than 250,000 TV commercials promoting unrealistic body types. This translates to 53% of 13 year old girls who hate their bodies; jumping to 78% by age 17. Marketing, advertising, and gender norms continuously tell us we are flawed, and the cosmetic industry banks on the idea that girls and women have low self-esteem. As parents, friends, and family members, we have an obligation to make sure we’re having conversations and offering solutions to counter these media and advertising messages; especially for girls.

Soccer Mom, and Olympic gold medalist Julie Foudy spoke about her daughter Izzy’s first encounter with the tomboy archetype. “When Izzy asked what a tomboy was and if it was a good thing, I said it was a great thing! It meant she was strong, active, happy, confident, and liked sports. And that mommy was a tomboy too. ‘Oh good,’ she replied. ‘I just thought it meant I liked guns and swords like Declan (her brother), and I don’t like those.’ Now, I often hear her tell other friends with pride that she’s a tomboy.”

Athletes and tomboys like young Izzy stand a better chance against Madison Avenue–and in life in general. The benefits to girls and women who play sports are many; better health, higher confidence, stronger self-image, and better grades. On average, female athletes are more likely to have a positive body image and are less likely to consider themselves overweight than females who don’t take part in sports (Hausenblas and Downs, 2001; Miller et al., 2001). And, new research has scientifically proven that increased blood volume in the brain, a product of exercise, creates an optimal environment to grow neural connections and produce an assortment of beneficial molecules (Brown and Fenske, The Winning Brain, 2010).

Foudy and her husband Ian are parents who talk to their daughter about appearance and makeup (which came up when Foudy was transformed to look good for the ‘lights of television’ as a broadcaster for the World Cup). Julie tells Izzy that ”if someone is so worried about how they look on the outside, they’re not taking good enough care of the inside. We want the inside to be beautiful and the outside will then shine.”

By playing sports, we learn that we can do almost anything as long as we’re willing to practice and be committed to learning new things. An athlete who has a tough day at practice or a lousy game knows that she’s still a good person and there’s always another day.

“Sport, especially team sports, teaches us how to work with one another and go through the triumphs and tribulations together. Being on a team, you learn to embrace differences. You’re exposed to others who have different backgrounds, and you have to figure out how to relate and work together for a common goal,” says Hilary Knight, Olympic silver medalist in ice hockey. Sport teaches us that it’s okay to make mistakes; the secret to getting better at whatever you want to do is never making the same mistake twice.

Getting more girls to embrace being a tomboy, play sports, and challenge gender assumptions and media hype to be a ‘girly girl’ (as Izzy calls it) takes guts. As Anita DeFrantz, the highest ranking woman on the International Olympic Committee, says “Give a young girl a ball and a doll,” as a way to encourage people to expose girls to sports early. I like to say, give a young boy a ball and a doll too! Then we can encourage the nurturing and caregiving qualities of boys and the strength and confidence of girls from an early age.