Commemorating Title IX

Activities Department holds first women in leadership summit


Photo by Jaclyn Johnson

Coach Jacque Tevis-Butler gives a presentation on Title IX at the Women in Sports and Leadership summit. Tevis-Butler spoke about the importance of female representation in athletics. “Representation matters because if you can see it, you can be it,” Tevis-Butler said. “When women are not equally represented in leadership positions, it sends a subtle, but extremely powerful and negative message about women. It sends the message that men hold all power. We need more perspectives.”

Morgan Weir, Editor-in-chief

Female student athletes and leaders gathered in the auditorium for the first ever Women in Sports and Leadership Summit on Thursday, Feb. 3. The event, held by the Millard West Activities Department, took place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and it consisted of three speakers followed by a panel question and answer. 

Discussion revolved around the importance of women in leadership, leadership development tips and ways to handle gender-based discrimination. The event fell on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, a 1972 law that prohibits discrimination in school activities and athletics on the basis of sex. 

At a national conference, Activities Director Lance Smith discussed ways to commemorate the anniversary. Some Millard West coaches shared resources from similar events done by Hudl, the company that provides game film for school sports games. The event also coincided with National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NWGSD), an event held during the first week of February to celebrate the accomplishments of female athletes. 

“I thought it was a great way to provide a unique opportunity to a subgroup of our population and the timing happened to work out with Title IX and NWGSD,” Smith said. “It is better than a general leadership seminar because they can focus on issues specific to women and girls. It makes the conversation more personal and relevant.”

The three main speakers included Millard Associate Superintendent Dr. Heather Phipps, social studies teacher and head women’s soccer coach Jacque Tevis-Butler and former Huskers volleyball and basketball player Allie Mailloux, who helps run the Athletic Leadership Academy. Each speaker came up with their own presentation and offered a unique perspective on female leadership. As the highest-ranking woman in the district, Phipps spoke to attendees about how to be a student leader. 

“I thought it was important to spend a few minutes looking at some of the statistics highlighting the under-representation of women in top corporate leadership roles,” Phipps said. “I thought it was more important though to talk specifically to the young women in attendance about what they can do right now to make their voices heard and to step into leadership roles. If young women don’t see examples of strong female leaders, we cannot close the gap between the number of females in the workforce and the number of women in top leadership roles. These Wildcats are the future, and we owe it to them to show them all that they can be.”

As a five time state soccer champion and multi-time Metro Coach of the Year, Tevis-Butler spoke about the importance of Title IX and the discrimination she has faced as a female leader in sports. She shared that out of 21 sports in Millard, there are 16 male head coaches to five female head coaches. 

“Creating my presentation, I wanted to show some data that not only pointed out the successes, but also demonstrated some areas and examples of what I’d call ‘areas of opportunity,’” Tevis-Butler said. “My thought process was this: in the last 50 years, Title IX has led to some incredible changes and improvements for all, men and women. Those changes should be celebrated. However, the work is not done. Perhaps the greatest challenge is still out there: the evolution of culture and our continued adherence to some rather antiquated ideas about what women and men are supposed to be like.”

The audience was made up of female leaders from many different sports and activities. During the question and answer portion, they were able to ask questions of the diverse group of panelists, which included Mailloux, assistant principal Dr. Jennifer Allen and Millard West alum Brittney McAllister, a leading female real estate agent in Omaha who works with an all female team and was a finalist for the National Association of Realtors’ 30 under 30. Attendees received advice on how to handle sexist comments, what the importance of representation is and how to be a leader in their sport and in their community.

“I learned how to deal with adversity when it comes to stereotypes of women in general in sports, and especially in leadership roles,” senior girl’s wrestling team captain Mason Klein said. “I learned the importance of sticking my ground when a male tries to belittle me or treats me like I’m not knowledgeable just because I am female. I also discovered some stereotypes and the need to destroy them: for example, being called a tomboy for a female’s lack of femininity or being athletic and dressing in sporty clothes. It changed my thinking and outlook on the athletics and leadership field, especially at Millard West.” 

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX and NGWSD sparked important conversations about representation and inclusion. The Activities Department hopes to make this an annual event and continue the conversation about supporting Wildcat girls in leadership roles.