An unapologetically candid and illuminating history of women and their fight for equality, told through the influential world of sports.
From early Amazons to modern-day athletes, women have been fighting for their rightful place in the world. The history of these female athletes—whether warriors on the battlefield or competitors in the sports arena—has often been neglected, yet it is through sports that women have changed society, gaining entry into education, travel, politics, and more.
When Women Stood is an eye-opening chronicle of the amazing women who refused to accept the status quo and fought for something better for themselves and for those who would follow. Featuring exclusive insight from athletes such as Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Kathrine Switzer, Nancy Lieberman, Briana Scurry, and Nancy Hogshead-Maker, this book includes the stories of female football players, Olympic athletes, powerlifters, and soccer stars, of historians, archeologists, crusaders, and scientists.
Women’s sports history cannot be told without also telling the story of the fight for gender and racial equality, economics, medical biases, gay and transgender history, violence, religion, media, abuse, and activism. When Women Stood is the first to go beyond the record books and gold medal counts to truly dig into the vital role women and sports have played in instigating change in society as a whole. And it shows that, despite seemingly unsurmountable odds, the true spirit of the female athlete can never be restrained.
Alexandra Allred is a former professional athlete who made sports history when she won the first-ever U.S. Women’s Bobsled Championship when she was over four months pregnant. A former fighter and fourth degree black belt, Allred has been teaching martial arts, self-defense and mainstream fitness classes for over 25 years. She is the author of the award-winning book Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sport. Today, she is an adjunct professor and researcher of sports and exercise science. For more, please visit www.alexandraallred.com.
Chapter 1: Early Women Warriors
Chapter 2: The Media Image of Women of Enlightenment
Chapter 3: White Women in Sport
Chapter 4: Suffragist Movement
Chapter 5: Women of Color
Chapter 6:The Importance of Race, Sports and the Polite Society
Chapter 7: Women, War and Her Entry into Sport
Chapter 8: A League of Their Own
Chapter 9: The Real History Behind Title IX and the Battle of the Sexes
Chapter 10: Media Relations and the Second Wave Woman
Chapter 11: The Third Wave and the Women of the 80s and 90s
Chapter 12: Exploitation of the Female Image
Chapter 13: Modern Medicine for the Modern Woman
Chapter 14: Lesbians in Sport & Society
Chapter 15: The Closing of the Twentieth Century
Chapter 16: Sports & Abuse
Chapter 17: The Fourth Wave of Women in Sports & Society
Chapter 18: Transgender Female Athletes in Sport
Chapter 19: Title IX in the New Millenium
Chapter 20: Game Changers
Chapter 21: Where Do We Go from Here?
Postscript: Regarding the Women Who Participated in this Book
About the Author
Allred, who competed on the first U.S. women’s bobsled team in 1994, spotlights in her incisive debut a host of women in sports and their transformative accomplishments. The female athletes highlighted include household names, as well as those largely unknown, and race is often a factor. Black basketball player Alma English Byrd led her team to win the Arkansas state basketball championship in 1939, despite “having never played on a wood floor before the tournament”; high jumper Dorothy Cure was the first Black woman to set a national record in 1914 for the running broad jump; and tennis star Althea Gibson “transcended her sport during times of racial inequity and violence” and won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals in the 1950s. Other chapters discuss how patriarchal ideas of modesty shaped the history of women’s sporting attire, detail polarizing public policies about the inclusion of transgender female athletes in women’s sports, and examine how second-wave feminism in the 1960s and 1970s emboldened women to compete in previously male-dominated sports. Allred’s prose is direct, and she lucidly explains how these pioneers have challenged gender and racial stereotypes. The result is an enlightening account of women trailblazers.
Allred, an athlete activist and professor of sports and exercise science, made sports history when she was named to the first U.S. women’s bobsled team and won the U.S. Nationals in 1994, when she was four months pregnant. This well-documented book covers a lot of ground, tracing the traditional roles, challenges, and triumphs of women (not just female athletes) throughout history, from ancient Greece, Asia, and Africa to the modern day…. Allfred celebrates women and their hard-earned advances on the playing field and in achieving personal freedom, but also delivers a striking reminder of how much work is yet to be done. A significant contribution to women’s studies. [Also a] useful overview for teens studying women's history.
History is full of examples of women being excluded from activities and of their subsequent fight to participate. Allred’s is a former professional athlete who won the first U.S. Women’s Bobsled Championship when she was more than four months pregnant. Her book focuses mainly on campaigns for equal opportunity in sports, but she also weaves in many of the other equality battles women fought at the same time…. Allred includes discussions of the media’s sexualized depiction of women athletes, the male-centric focus of sports medicine and nutrition, the creation and evolution of Title IX, and the additional barriers faced by Black, Latina, Indigenous, lesbian, and transgender athletes. A fascinating and thorough history of the fight for women’s rights told through the lens of sports. Will likely appeal to readers interested in sports history and gender studies.
When Women Stood inspired me. The strong and courageous women profiled have paved the way for so many girls to have opportunities that their grandmothers would not have dreamed of. I'm reaching for my gym bag now.
Alexandra Allred tells the stories of the unknown, the unheard, and the unpopular truth of women in sports.
This book took me on a journey to realizing the fundamental truth I had been missing: for women, sports represent freedom—the freedom to control their own bodies and their own destiny. For a history buff, it’s a feast. For someone studying women’s history, it’s essential.
Cascading through centuries of time, this book quickly engages the reader as it highlights the rarely told stories of women sport icons, from centuries past to the well-known game changers of today. The author’s research and historical insights in this eye opener delve into the tumultuous plight of women in sports and the dysfunctional social norms they continually face...and break.
An original, important, and timely contribution to women’s history. Focusing on the struggle for equality in sports, Allred vividly illuminates how this affects every other aspect of women’s ongoing fight for our rightful place in the world. Thoroughly researched, the book is also compelling and highly readable.
A respectful tribute to remarkable women influencers and the historical contributions they made throughout sport and society. An inspiration to all.
A fascinating account of how, throughout history, women in sports took the lead––and continue to lead––in the journey to equality with the other half of the population.
11/19/22, Publishers Weekly: This book was featured in a roundup of diverse reads.
11/29/22, Sports Book Reviews: This book was highlighted in a roundup of highly anticipated sports books.
3/13/23, WAMC Northeast Public Radio / The Roundtable: Joe Donahue interviews Alexandra Allred about the book.