“Systemic” is not a common word in everyday conversation but often used when people discuss social issues. “Systemic” means being part of a system. As such, it’s rarely identified or questioned. It’s how things are done.
Every Saturday morning during basketball season, readers of The Lima News see a special banner at the top of the front page labeled “Boys Prep Scores.” Have we ever seen a similar banner with “Girls Prep Scores”?
Many athletic leagues expect girls to play on school nights, while boys play weekend nights. After playing distant away games, it can be difficult to get homework done and get up for school the next day. The reason given for some leagues scheduling games this way is that they say girls’ games don’t draw crowds, as do the boys’ games. Many athletic departments say they need the money they get from weekend gate receipts.
When I suggested to the editor of The Lima News to put up a banner for the girls or take down the one for the boys, he said the newspaper sells more Saturday papers when the banner for boys’ scores are on the front page. Consequently, the banner would not be removed.
So, there you have it — it’s the system. Girls, ladies, women take the backseat because some athletic leagues and newspapers find being fair to be too costly. That’s “systemic sexism,” which is why observing Women’s History Month every March is important. It opens up a discussion, and identifying inequity is the first step in changing it.