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WNBA gets highest marks among pro sports leagues on gender, racial hiring

The WNBA sets the standard among sport leagues for providing opportunities regardless of race or gender, according to a study at the University of Central Florida.

The league received an A+ for race and an A for gender for a combined grade of A in the latest Racial and Gender Report Card by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

“Are we playing fair when it comes to sports? Does everyone, regardless of race or gender, have a chance to score a basket and run the team?” Those are the main questions asked in the study, and the WNBA received the highest scores of any professional league, as has been the case for much of the past decade.

The WNBA’s gender grade was down slightly from A+ in 2010 as women lost ground in the areas of head coaches, team senior administrators and team professional staff. People of color increased in the league office as head coaches and as players while losing ground as assistant coaches and team professional staff.

This is the third report card on diversity employment issued this year by TIDES. The NBA received its highest grade in 2011 with an A+ for race and an A- on gender for a combined A. Major League Baseball got an overall grade of B+.

Among the highlights cited in the WNBA report card was Laurel J. Richie becoming the first woman of color of a professional sports league.

The percentages of women and persons of color holding professional level staff positions in the WNBA office increased significantly in 2011. African‐Americans occupied 29 percent of the professional level staff positions, an increase of 5 percent. Women filled 76 percent of the WNBA professional staff positions, up 7 percent.

Four women held majority ownership in WNBA franchises in 2011, one more than in 2010. There were five African-American head coaches (42 percent of the league), also one more than the previous season.

To view the complete report, visit

Categories: WNBA (6)

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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