Pro Officiating Tough for Women to Crack

Pro Officiating Tough for Women to Crack

Women continue to struggle to break in as officials at the highest levels of sports. espnW examines the sports showing progress and those lagging far behind.

When Billie Jean King watches a tennis match and sees a blown call, she hopes the linesperson at fault is not a woman. Although she has led the gender-equity charge in tennis since defeating Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes, she hears people speak openly about female officials.

"They don't trust the women; they just don't," King said.

Tennis has been the most progressive of sports when it comes to having women make the call in officiating. Women such as Eileen Leonard, Anita Shukow, Florence Blanchard and Judy Popkin have been officiating men's matches as far back as the 1960s.

But tennis is the exception to the rule when it comes to women and major sports officiating. Even though female participation in all levels of amateur and professional sports has continued to grow in the 39 years since the passage of Title IX, it is rare to have women as professional officials.

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