Conferences & Symposia

Game Changers: Sports, Gender, and Society

Photo by Stan HondaPhoto by Stan Honda

The degree to which sports—broadly defined—permeates societies and cultures has never been greater, making it a revealing lens through which to understand many contemporary issues. The Radcliffe Institute conference “Game Changers: Sports, Gender, and Society” will explore the relationship between sports and gender in the United States and around the world.

The conference begins on the evening of Thursday, April 6, with an arts performance and conversation about Toni Stone, whose unprecedented athletic career had an impact on the struggle for equality and social justice in Jim Crow America.

The program features a staged reading of scenes from the play Toni Stone by playwright Lydia R. Diamond RI ’13, based on the book Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League by historian Martha Ackmann RI ’09.

The program on Friday, April 7, consists of panel discussions with athletes, business leaders, coaches, physicians, policy makers, and scholars on the topics of access and inclusion, health and medical research, and media and popular culture. The day will feature a conversation with Laila Ali, the four-time undefeated super-middleweight boxing world champion, fitness and wellness expert, and author.

Free and open to the public.



8 a.m.

Registration Opens

9 a.m.


Lizabeth Cohen, Dean of the Radcliffe Institute and Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies, Department of History, Harvard University

9:15 a.m.

Who Gets to Play?

Anita L. DeFrantz, Member, International Olympic Committee; former President, LA84 Foundation; 1976 Olympic bronze medalist (rowing)

Donna A. Lopiano, President, Sports Management Resources; former Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Sports Foundation

Stephanie Wheeler, Head Coach, Women’s Wheelchair Basketball, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; 2004 and 2008 Paralympic gold medalist (women’s wheelchair basketball)

Moderator: Susan Ware, General Editor, American National Biography

10:45 a.m.


11 a.m.


Brian Hainline, Senior Vice President, Sports Science Institute; Chief Medical Officer, National Collegiate Athletic Association; Clinical Professor of Neurology, NYU School of Medicine and Indiana University School of Medicine

Parissa Safai, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health, York University

Travis T. Tygart, Chief Executive Officer, US Anti-Doping Agency

Moderator: Cheri A. Blauwet, Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital; 2004 Paralympic gold medalist (800m, track and field)

12:30 p.m.

Lunch and Exhibition Viewing

2 p.m.


Introduction by Yukio Lippit, Johnson-Kulukundis Family Faculty Director of the Arts, Radcliffe Institute and Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

A conversation between

Laila Ali, Four-time undefeated Super-Middleweight Boxing World Champion, fitness and wellness expert, and author


Christine Brennan, National sports columnist, USA Today; Commentator, ABC News, CNN, PBS NewsHour, and NPR's Morning Edition; Author

3:15 p.m.


3:30 p.m.


Kavitha A. Davidson, Writer, espnW; Contributor, ESPN The Magazine and

Rachael Miyung Joo, Assistant Professor of American Studies, Middlebury College

Michael Messner, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, University of Southern California

Moderator: Mary Jo Kane, Professor in the School of Kinesiology, Director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, University of Minnesota

5 p.m.


Janet Rich-Edwards, Faculty Codirector of the Science Program, Radcliffe Institute; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; and Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health