The University of Arizona

Gittings' Kittens: The Development of Women's Athletics at the University of Arizona from 1930-1949

Elizabeth Pepper


Many changes occurred in the field of collegiate athletics for women between 1930 and 1949. The first director of physical education for women at the University of Arizona, Ina Gittings, was a pioneer in this front. Prior to her appointment, the primary policy-making organizations actively discouraged intense athletic activity for women out of fear that it might foster unfeminine values in the population. Despite this, Gittings worked from within the system to promote proper feminine values as a way to push the boundaries of what was acceptable for women athletically. In addition, she created a required social fundamentals class that taught female students about proper feminine values in order to ensure that her students were still being taught the same lessons that the Women’s Division of the NAAF and other groups wanted women to learn. World War II further allowed women’s athletics to flourish. The military required fit and healthy citizens, both participating in the war effort and at home. As a result, women were finally granted the opportunity to train and compete in intercollegiate athletics across the country the way that Gittings had so encouraged.

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