Togethxr: How Professional Women Athletes Are Changing the Media Game

Ask Media Group | "X" Logo Courtesy: Togethxr | Photos Courtesy: Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images; Ezra Shaw/Getty Images; Michael Reaves/Getty Images; Stephen Gosling/NBAE/Getty Images

On March 18, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) made headlines — but not because of some history-making March Madness moment. Ali Kershner, a coach from Stanford University, posted a photo set comparing the men’s and women’s weight room setups at their respective tournaments. In short, the men’s teams had a professional-looking weight room, furnished with as much workout equipment as the social distancing guidelines would allow, while the women were presented with a stack of weights and some stanitized yoga mats. "In a year defined by a fight for equality this is a chance to have a conversation and get better," Kershner wrote in the Instagram caption.

Sadly, this is nothing new for women in sports. Women’s NCAA basketball teams can be some of the winningest in history, but that doesn’t mean those teams and athletes are given the recognition, coverage, and respect they deserve. While women’s sports are deserving on their own, comparisons often underscore the fact that this inequality has nothing to do with accolades.

For example, in collegiate sports, UConn’s women’s basketball program has 11 championship titles to date, while the men’s program has just four. But this carries into professional sports, too. The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) has consistently outperformed their soccer-playing male counterparts — the USWNT has four FIFA World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals, while the men’s squad have yet to win a World Cup or a single gold medal. Even so, the USWNT players filed a gender-discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF), citing "institutionalized gender discrimination" that "has caused, contributed to, and perpetuated gender-based pay disparities." (Recently, the U.S. men’s team has even backed the USWNT’s claims against USSF.)

On a recent trip to the White House, USWNT players Margaret Purce and Megan Rapinoe told House lawmakers that women can't just outperform their male counterparts in order to secure equal pay. Moreover, equality shouldn’t just hinge on the success of women’s sports teams. That equality, be it in terms of pay, coverage, support or respect, should be a given. All of this — and so much more — brings us to Togethxr, a new, women-led media venture that’s aiming to center and uplift women athletes.