History of Women in




General Information


Before 1800

Only prostitutes or virgins were allowed to spectate at the Ancient Olympic games, as married women were banned. Women were originally the prizes in men's Ancient Olympic Chariot races.


1000 B.C..- The games of Hera were a version of athletic games specifically for women where the prizes consisted of pomegranates, symbols of fertility, olive wreaths and slices of a sacrificial cow.


396 B.C..- A Spartan Princess, Kynisc, was the first female Olympic Champion and first woman to become a champion horse trainer. She was barred from collecting her prize in person.


1896- The first modern Olympics were held, but women were not allowed to participate. However, a Greek woman was an unofficial competitor in the marathon, because she ran the course the day after the men's race. For the final lap, she was not allowed to enter the stadium so she ran around the stadium. While her real name was Stamati Revithi, she was labeled as Melpomene, which is the Greek muse of tragedy.


1896- 1981- There were no female members of the International Olympic Committee.



1900- At the Olympic Games in Paris, it is believed that women participated in ballooning, croquet, equestrianism, golf, tennis, and yachting.


1911- At the age of sixty-one, Annie Smith Peck was the first woman to climb to the top Mt. Coropuna in Peru and planted a "Vote for Women" banner.


1917- The American Physical Education Association formed a committee on Women's Athletics to draft separate standardized rules for women's collegiate swimming, track and field, field hockey and soccer.


1921- The National Women's Athletic Association was organized.


1921- The NAAF (National Amateur and Athletic Federation) was founded and was committed to girls and boys being on "equal footing with the same standards, the same program and the same regulations."


1923- Twenty-two percent of U.S. colleges had varsity sports teams for women.


1950- Babe Didrikson Zaharis was named "Women Athlete of the Half Century."


1954- Louise Pound was the first woman voted to the Lincoln Journal Sports Hall of Fame for organizing a girls military company and setting records at rifle target practice.


1968- The Olympic Committee conducts gender tests for the first time in international sports at the Winter Games in Grenoble, France.


1968- Enriquette Basillo became the first woman to light the Olympic flame at the Mexico City Summer Games.


1970- Only 294,000 American high school girls participated in interscholastic sports.


1972- Congress passed the Education Amendments which included Title XI. Title XI stated: "No person in the United States shall, on basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any education program or activities receiving financial assistance." This is a major achievement for female athletes.




2000- There were sixteen new women's events planned for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney including: weightlifting, trap shooting, skeet shooting, duet synchronized swimming, synchronized diving, two kilometer walk, 500, 1000 and 3000 meter cycling, water polo, pole vault, triathlon, taekwondo, hammer throw, modern pentathlon and trampoline.


2004- Since Title IX went into effect in 1972, the number of women playing sports in college increased by 400% and the number of women playing interscholastic sports increased by 847%.

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