Ahead of another Final Four trip for her Notre Dame Fighting Irish, head coach Muffet McGraw hasn’t been afraid to make waves. Six days ago, in an interview with ThinkProgress, the national championship-winner declared that she would no longer be hiring male assistants.
McGraw’s longtime rival is, of course, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma, perhaps the most successful women’s coach of all time. The two will face off in tonight’s semifinal game.
Auriemma was critical of McGraw’s stance, even though he generally does not hire male assistants. On Thursday, ahead of the crucial game, McGraw doubled down, and explained her stance.
From ND Insider:
“When you look at men’s basketball and 99 percent of the jobs go to men, why shouldn’t 100 or 99 percent of the jobs in women’s basketball go to women?” McGraw said with tension in her voice. “Maybe it’s because we only have 10 percent women athletic directors in Division I. People hire people who look like them. That’s the problem.”
Part of it, anyway, the coach explained.
“Girls are socialized to know (that) gender rules are already set,” McGraw said.
“Men run the world. Men have the power. Men make the decisions. It’s always the man that is the stronger one.
“When these girls are (growing up), who are they looking up to to tell them that’s not the way it has to be?” the coach continued. “Where better to do that than in sports? All these millions of girls that play sports, we’re teaching them great things about life skills, but wouldn’t it be great if we could teach them to watch how women lead?”
While there is one female assistant in the Division I men’s basketball ranks, Maine’s Edniesha Curry, the number of men in the women’s ranks is rising. McGraw sees women in power hiring women as one of the only ways to effectively make sure that they are getting opportunities in the profession.
Muffet McGraw used the opportunity to discuss greater gender inequality issues in society at large, as well.
She brought up the fact that the 1967 Equal Rights Amendment has not been ratified in a number of states, as well as various statistics showing inequality between the genders in positions of leadership, both in government and the private sector.
“I’m getting tired of the novelty of ‘the first female governor of this state,’ ‘the first female African-American mayor of this city,’” the Notre Dame Hall of Fame coach said sternly of how slowly she perceives progress to be crawling along for women in many areas of society.
“When is it going to become the norm instead of the exception?” McGraw wondered. “We don’t have enough female role models. We don’t have enough visible women leaders. We don’t have enough women in power.”
As expected, her statements have drawn both praise and ire, but her decision to use this huge platform to stand for something she believes in is courageous.