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Breaking The Bias: Basketball Australia Celebrates International Women’s Day


Breaking The Bias: Basketball Australia Celebrates International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Basketball Australia has held a panel discussion addressing this year’s theme, ‘breaking the bias.’

The panel, hosted by Megan Hustwaite, involved Lauren Jackson, Sami Whitcomb, Sandy Brondello, Jacqui Dove, and Lorraine Landon.

Within the discussion, the basketball professionals, moms and women, addressed the future of women’s sport, pay equity and breaking the bias.

Former WNBA athlete and current Basketball Australia head of women in basketball, Lauren Jackson, explained how bias has affected her work.

“For me, in administration, there has definitely been times where I’ve had to play the boy’s game to be heard or seen or to have a voice,” Jackson said during the event.

“I think there is a long way to go in terms of breaking down stereotypes and celebrating women for what they have to say and the contribution they can make without them having to put on a front.”

The panel collectively explained how mentors alongside a strong support system have helped them break through biases on and off the court.

Former basketball player and current Savannah Pride director, Lorraine Landon, outlined her experiences stepping into a male dominated administration role.

“I remember being in a NBL meeting and there were 149 males, and I was the female of 150,” Landon said.

To stake her claim in the administration role, Landon said self-respect, courage and women working together are the keys to overcoming bias.

“If you believe in yourself you have to push your views in a way that men don’t feel threatened,” Landon said.

“If they feel threatened, you don’t stand a chance.

“Women have to help each other to succeed and if we do that, we’ll see more action than we are at the moment,” she said.

Australian Opals head coach and New York Liberty head coach, Sandy Brondello, added to this statement.

“As women, we need to continue to uplift each other,” Brondello said.

“We need mentors in our life because at times we are going to face adversity and we will need to be uplifted to be reminded of all the talents we have, and to set us on that right path again, because as women it’s all about confidence,” she said.

On average, an NBA player’s salary is US$7.7 million (AUD$10.45 million) whilst their female counterparts in the WNBA earn US$75,000 (AUD$101,815), equating to 1% of an NBA salary.

American-Australian basketball athlete, Sami Whitcomb, explained the impact of low salaries on the athletes.

“When I started playing overseas, I made just enough to get by and I’ve obviously seen that grow a little bit, but I’m still very much in a position where to support myself, my family and my son, I do need to work year-round and play year-round,” Whitcomb said.

“The NBA’s CBA salary outline has increased marginally but not in a way that supports us and not in a way that stops us from having to play overseas,” she said.

Landon added: “We need females to be able to stand up and say, I deserve more money.”

Former Commonwealth Games swimmer and current Centre for Sport and Social Impact PhD candidate, Samantha Marshall, outlined how basketball’s lack of progression pathways, women in positions of power and role models with exposure, alongside gender norms, cost, and sexism, is creating barriers for women entering the sport.

Looking forward, the panel said they expect to see women’s sport and women’s basketball grow only if it receives increased investment, backing and exposure.

Jackson also discussed the need to keep pushing and supporting women who are out there creating change.

“It takes radical people to create radical change and I think the athletes are leading the way,” Jackson said.

The panel agreed the next six months leading up to the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup in Sydney has the possibility to transform women’s basketball if players voice their input and create engagement with the cup.

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