Christine Grant fought for fairness for female athletes


At age 11, Grant started playing netball, a rough equivalent of backboard-less basketball, in Scotland. She later helped form a national governing body for female field hockey players in Canada. In 1968, she arrived in Iowa, where she obtained a doctorate. in sports administration. She also unexpectedly and disappointedly discovered that the sporting opportunities for female athletes in the United States were as claustrophobic as the underground shelter she had endured in World War II.

In 1969, in a story Grant frequently recalled, a country house on the Iowa campus was to be built with fees paid by students. But architectural plans excluded changing rooms and bathrooms for women, who were not to be allowed into the building. She said she was told that women lack interest in sports.

“And I’m sure that was the trigger that made me a feminist,” Grant told Ellyn Bartges in 2009 in an interview for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Oral History Project. “I mean, I just – it blew me away.”

Grant laughed and continued, “I’m like, ‘The greatest democracy in the world is what the United States still claims to be. Well, that’s only for a minority of the population because women are the majority here. So that was the start of a real understanding of how this world works.

She intended to return to Canada but, instead, stayed in Iowa and set out to change those disparities for more than three decades as an administrator and teacher. In 1973, forward-thinking college president Willard L. Boyd, known as Sandy, appointed Grant athletic director of Iowa Women’s Sports with a salary of $ 14,000, making her the one of the first women in the country to hold the Title.

She held the position until 2000, hosting a dozen sports that won 27 Big Ten Conference championships and then taught classes until 2006. According to athleticismGrant increased the women’s sports budget from $ 3,000 to almost $ 7 million. And in her tireless pursuit of equality for women, she was not allergic to performing arts and mischief.

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