1) Bicycle Handle Bars
Have you ever wondered why men's bicycle's traditionally have horizontal handle bars, while women's bikes have more slanted handle bars? It actually dates back to the early days of bicycles, when some folks considered it improper for women (who wore almost exclusively dresses at the time) to be lifting their legs over their handle bars, because they might expose a bit of their legs or even, heaved forbid, some underwear.
2) USA Women's Soccer
When the US Women's Soccer team took home the FIFA World Cup
United States history, beating out the memorable matches of Landon Donovan's team in 2010 and Alexi Lalas in 1994. Upwards of 22 million people watched the end of the match.
3) Women's Soccer Balls
The move to use smaller balls for female soccer players was based on research suggesting that "that women’s more slender legs and ankles mean that they have to kick a standard soccer ball at a higher velocity, on average, than men to make the same shot." This can result in increased knee and ankle injuries, which have been shown to decrease with use of a smaller ball.
4) The All-American Girls Professional Ball League
During World War II, many male baseball players were serving overseas. Phillip Wrigley, thechewing gum magnate for whom Wrigley Field is named, oversaw the creation of a women's only baseball league. Players such as Mary Baker, Annabelle Lee, and Sophie Kurys are captured in this excellent Life Magazine photo essay.
Another example of how far we've come, in the early part of the 20th century, women were often banned from marathons because it was believed that running caused infertility. You can read more about the modern scientific understanding of the issues at play here. While there are some things to consider (for men and women) hoping to conceive, the health benefits of regular exercise seem to outweigh any negative side effects.
6) UConn's Women's Basketball
In 2010, the University of Connecticut Huskies Women's Basketball Team finally lost a game, after winning 90 in a row, breaking the record of 88 games set byJohn Wooden's UCLA teams. The streak included back to back undefeated championship seasons, a feat not accomplished in the men's game since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.
7) Title IX
Many collegiate sports were available only for male athletes before the passage of the Education Amendments of 1972. One portion of the law, called Title IX or Title Nine, guaranteed that any program receiving federal funding could not discriminate on the basis of gender. Because most collegiate sports receive this type of funding, this really expanded the options available for female athletes all over the country.
8) Women in the Olympics
Women were actually not allowed to compete in the first modern Olympic Games in Greece in 1896. The following games, in 1900, featured only 22 female athletes. In recent years, countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia have begun sending women for the first time. According to the New York Times, at the 2012 games in London "About 45 percent of the 10,500 athletes competing [were] women. "