Grant to win third-annual Women in Equity award


When Christine Grant was hired as the University of Iowa’s first women’s athletics director, she struggled with male colleagues who did not understand how to work with a woman.

Grant used her experience to pave the way for equality for women in sports, and now, she will be recognized for that achievement.

Grant will be the recipient of the third-annual 50-50 in 2020 Women in Equity Award on Sept. 23 for her influence on the world of athletics.

50-50 in 2020 is a bipartisan initiative to achieve political equality in Iowa by the year 2020 — the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage — by recruiting, training, and mentoring women in sufficient numbers.

By that time, the organization hopes to have women holding 50 percent of the positions in the state Legislature.

Jean Lloyd-Jones, the 50-50 in 2020 director in Iowa City, said Grant is a person of “absolute integrity.”

“She doesn’t put on any show, and there is nothing false about her persona,” she said.

Lloyd-Jones said Grant is incredibly passionate about the goals of 50-50 in 2020. When the organization was initiated, Grant asked her if there was anything she could do to help.

There are 10 categories the organization looks for when deciding which women to award: academia, business, entertainment arts, journalism, law, military, nonprofit, political, religion, and sports.

While a graduate student at the UI, Grant applied for and became the the school’s first women’s athletics director in 1973, and she stayed in that position for more than two decades, until her retirement in 2000.

Grant testified before Congress several times and served as a consultant for the Civil Rights Title IX task force — which protects people from being discriminated against based on sex in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

“We’re casting aside the brains and talents of more than half our population,” Grant said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Gayle Blevins, a former Hawkeye head softball coach, said Grant was known by those who worked for her as a tremendous leader, and an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.

“I knew her as a wonderful, powerful figure head in women’s athletics,” Blevins said. “I jumped at the chance to be able to work with her.”

Blevins said not only has Grant worked toward equality for women in sports but in other areas as well — which Lloyd-Jones said is important.

Iowa is one of two states that have never elected a woman governor or to Congress, according to the Center for American Women and Politics website.

Lloyd-Jones said when she first went into Legislature, it had only 11 percent women, and some of the members couldn’t tell the women apart.

“They would call us the same name and treat us like we were exactly the same,” she said. “They didn’t know how to treat us or what to do with us.”

Since then, women have grown to hold 99 — 18.5 percent — of the 535 seats in the 113th Congress.

“Women like Grant who have been through the mill and have gotten to high places of power realize we haven’t gotten there yet,” Lloyd-Jones said.

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