Feb 16, 2022 - Sports

American women lead the way in Beijing

Photo illustration of Team USA members Chloe Kim, Erin Jackson and Ashley Caldwell against a background of stars and stripes.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Wang Haofei/Xinhua, Mao Jianjun/China News Service, Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

For the second time in seven months, American women are ensuring that Team USA comes home with plenty of hardware.

State of play: As of Tuesday night, women had won 13 of Team USA's 17 medals in Beijing, with nine coming in women's events and four coming in mixed events.

By the numbers: 108 of Team USA's 224 members are women, marking the 11th consecutive Winter Olympics that the U.S. has tied or broken the record for most women competing for a single nation.

  • The U.S. is also the only nation to have four different women win individual gold in Beijing: Jacobellis, Kim, Humphries and Jackson.
  • American women were similarly impactful last summer in Tokyo, comprising 54% of the team (329 of 613) and winning 58% of the medals (66 of 113), including 23 of 39 golds.

The backdrop: This is a momentous year for American women's sports, with Title IX turning 50 in June. That legislation directly impacted the Olympic pipeline by making college athletics more accessible to women.

Data: International Olympic Committtee; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The big picture: Women's increased Olympic presence is hardly limited to the U.S. Representation has steadily grown since the first modern Games in 1896, the last time women were barred from competing.

  • Women comprised just 2.2% of athletes in their first Summer Games (1900) and 4.3% in their first Winter Games (1924). They didn't crack 10% until 1936, 20% until 1960 or 30% until 1994.
  • Now, the Olympics are nearly gender equal: A Winter Games-record 45% of athletes in Beijing are women, and 49% of athletes in Tokyo were women, a Summer Games record.
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