Summer 2020

Leveling the field

Mary Jo Kane, founder of the U of M’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, won an Upper Midwest Emmy Award in 2014 for a Twin Cities Public Television documentary that explored media coverage of female athletes.

In July 2019, millions of television viewers watched the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team win the World Cup title. These strong ratings validated what Professor Mary Jo Kane has studied for decades: people want to watch women’s sports if players are characterized as skilled athletes instead of sex objects.

Kane is director emerita of the U of M’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, which she founded in 1993. Since then, the center—the first of its kind—has become a go-to resource for those who support girls’ and women’s ability to have safe and fair access to sports.  

To help ensure the future work of the Tucker Center, Kane committed an estate gift to establish the David and Janie Kane Endowed Tucker Center Director Fund, which honors her late siblings. “David and Janie were incredibly proud of my accomplishments, and the Tucker Center reflects their passions,” she says. “This gift is a way to honor their memories and carry forward our family name.” 

Kane has inspired others to give, too. In honor of Kane’s retirement this year, Bonnie Parkhouse, ’74 Ph.D., has created her own estate gift to benefit the new fund.  

“Mary Jo Kane is the epitome of those who have dedicated their lives to equality for girls and women in sport, in both the media and on the playing field,” Parkhouse says.