A Timeline

Women in Sports


The Women’s Swimming Association was founded by Charlotte Epstein, along with a few other women who wanted to swim and teach swimming to promote the health benefits of the sport. Epstein would eventually be referred to as “the mother of women’s swimming in America.”


The Modern Olympics returned in 1896. Women were finally admitted to compete in 1920.



Alice Milliat founded the Federation Sportive Feminine International, which would launch the first female Olympic games.



Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel and accomplishes it in a faster time than any man.



Charlotte Epstein chaired the swimming committee in charge of the trials and selection of the teams for the second Maccabiah Games at Tel Aviv. The Maccabiah Games are often referred to as the Jewish Olympics.


Charlotte Epstein refused to attend the Berlin Olympics in protest of American participation and withdrew from the American Olympic Committee in protest of Nazi policies.


Babe Didrikson Zaharias becomes the first woman to play in a PGA event.



Babe Didrikson  Zaharias named the “Women Athlete of the Half-Century”.



Toni Stone becomes the first woman to play big-league professional baseball for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League.


Althea Gibson becomes the first African-American woman to win a Grand Slam Tournament after winning the singles title in the French Open, then she would go on to win Wimbledon and the US open in 1957.


Wilma Rudolph is the first American woman to win three track and field Olympic gold medals. She was the Associated Press Female Athlete of The Year in 1960 and 1961.


Women were not allowed in the Boston Marathon until 1972. When Kathrine Switzer entered in 1968 other racers tried to eject her from the course. 


Title IX is passed to provide equal opportunity for men and women at higher level institutes. It was passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972 and prevents discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial aid and states that programs and activities receiving federal funding or assistance must act in a nondiscriminatory manner.


Billie Jean King wins the Battle of the Sexes, and beats a man in a tennis match proving that women are equal competitors to men.

The US Open became the first major tournament to offer equal prize money to both men and women (due to the pioneering efforts of Billie Jean King). 


Billie Jean King founded WomenSport magazine, the Women’s Sports Foundation, and with her husband formed World Team Tennis


Junko Tabei (of Japan), became the first woman to summit Mount Everest.


Nadia Comanci becomes the first to receive a perfect 10 in an Olympic gymnastics event and gold in all-around, beam, and uneven bars. She was fourteen years old.

Pat Summitt became the firstmen’s or women’s NCAA coach to achieve 1000 career wins.


Victoria Roche became the first girl to play in the Little League World Series as an outfielder on the Belgium team.


Anita DeFrantz became the first woman, and African American, to represent the International Olympic Committee.


Steffi Graf completed the only Grand Slam in tennis history at 19 years old by winning all four grand slam singles titles and the Olympic gold medal in one calendar year.



Bernadette Locke becomes the first female Division I coach of a men’s basketball team when she joins the University of Kentucky as an assistant coach to Rick Pitino in June.


The US Women’s Soccer team wins the first-ever women’s world championship, beating Norway.


Anita Defrantz becomes chair of the IOC’s Committee on Women and Sports, playing a key role in getting women’s soccer and softball added to the 1996 Atlanta Games as medal sports.


Ann Meyers becomes the first woman inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.


The inaugural Women’s National Basketball Association season begins on June 21.


Bentwood V Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association determines that high school sports programs are subject to Title IX regulations.


After pressure from Venus Williams, Wimbleton announces that men and women will receive equal prize money.


Trischa Zorn is inducted into the Paralympic Hall of Fame. She is the most successful athlete in the history of the Paralympic Games.


The women’s national hockey team announced it would boycott the world championship if they did not receive increased pay.


WNBA players speak out and say they are opting out of their contract agreement, in turn after a long fight the players received a higher salary and improved benefits.


Hudl launches the BreakThrough Summit, a free digital summit to develop and celebrate women in sports, offering an opportunity to hear from top industry leaders in sports.


Mary Kom, of India, becomes first boxer in AIBA history to win eight medals in the world meet. 


49er’s Katie Sowers becomes the first woman in NFL history to coach in the Super Bowl.


MLB Analyst, Jessica Mendoza, becomes the first woman. to serve as a solo analyst for a national package of MLB games. 


Sarah Thomas was the first woman to officiate the Super Bowl, and the first female referee at an NFL playoff game two years ago, and the first full-time female referee in the NFL. She was also the first woman to work a major college football game.


NBA sees Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon take over as the Lakers head coach, becoming the first female to act as head coach in the NBA.


NHL team, Chicago Blackhawks, hires Jamie Faulkner as president of operations, one of the top executive positions across all men’s professional sports


President Joe Biden signs executive order preventing and combating discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Discrimination In the NFL

2013: Bailey Davis, former New Orleans Saints cheerleader, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission citing a double standard for rules with male and female employees after being fired for a social media policy only applicable to cheerleaders. 

2013: Former NFL cheerleader for the Miami Dolfins, Kristan Ware, files a complaint against the league and team for gender and religious discrimination.

2020: NFL and MLB receive C grades from the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports for their gender hiring. 

2021: On Jan 7, 2021, a virtual hearing was held where Washington Football owner, Dan Snyder, and three minority owners have accused each other of leaking negative and confidential information, including information of sexual harassment allegations, to reporters, in violation of a non disparagement agreement. 

Sexual Harassment in Women’s Athletics

1985: First female reporter to report on the Washington NFL team was harassed by the-owner, Jack Kent Cooke, who tried to kiss her, pat her head and dismissed her questions. General manager, Bobby Beathard, made it verbally known he did not was a woman covering the team. 

1992: Jack Kent Cooke made sexist insults and comments towards DC mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon while negotiating a new football stadium deal.

2009: Washington Football paid a former female employee $1.6 million after she accused Washington Football owner, Dan Snyder, of sexual misconduct

2013: Washington Redskins invited cheerleaders to Costa Rica for a calendar photoshoot. Their passports were collected upon arrival by Redskins officials. They conducted a topless photoshoot, even though they promised the calendar would not show nudity, still, some of the cheerleaders only wore body paint. While the resort was secluded the Redskins had invited spectators onto the shoot and all men were granted up-close access to the photoshoot. (Additionally, after practice one day 9 of the 36 cheerleaders were told some of the male sponsors had picked them as their personal escorts at a nightclub). 

2018: Darren Sharper, former NFL player, is sentenced to 18 years in prison for drugging and raping as many as 16 women in four different states. 

2018: Larry Nassar, former USA gymnastics doctor, was sentenced to 40-175 years in prison after 160 girls, women, and parents testified the sexual abuse and misconduct of Nassar, who was also facing up to 60 years in prison for federal child pornography charges.

2020: Fifteen former female Washington Football employees reported sexual and verbal abuse on January 14, 2020

2020: Dan Snyder, Washington NFL team owner, promised an extensive unbias investigation after allegations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse. The lawyer hired to investigate is now being sued by team lawyers to prevent her from disclosing information on a settlement regarding Snyders own behavior. 

2021: Former Mets manager, Mickey Callaway, was forced to resign after aggressively pursuing five women in sports media, sending three of them nude photos and having requested nude photos from one. He was working as pitching coach for the Angels. 

2021: Mets general manager, Jared Porter, was fired just over a month after joining for sending uninvited sexually explicit text messages and photos in 2016 when working for the Cubs.