EUGENE, Ore. — Eugene is on a global stage right now for the World Athletics Championships, and the University of Oregon is seizing the moment to launch an initiative aimed at increasing gender equality in the world of track and field.
On Tuesday morning, University of Oregon president Michael Schill and World Athletics president Sebastian Coe held a forum called "Out of the blocks" to discuss strategies to get more women into leadership positions.
Women currently hold only 20% of leadership roles in NCAA division I and II athletic programs, according to Schill.
Coe previously served in British politics and saw gender inequality problems in sports while in office, and he said it was something he tried to address when he became chairman of the organizing committee for the Olympic games in London in 2012.
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"In London, we had more women in positions of seniority in the organizing committee than we had in men, we had the first woman of director of communications," he said.
Former Olympians were on hand Tuesday's forum, including Sanya Richards Ross, who worked her way up from the track to the broadcasting booth, where she worked with NBC during the Rio games in 2016.
"That gave me tremendous confidence to use my unique experiences to use in another way to my sport," Ross said.
Ximena Restrepro, the first female Vice President of World Athletics, also attended the forum and said track and field needs to create more opportunities for women.
"We need more men to help us get there, and we need more women to get out of their comfort zone and embrace challenges," she said.
The partnership with World Athletics will give the University of Oregon a chance to look to see what the organization has done over the years in terms of pursuing gender equality both on and off the field.
Coe said he hopes to see women hold forty percent of executive or leadership roles in track and field by 2025.