Just this year, three of Davenport’s women IM teams have had to completely forfeit their seasons because of low turnout while none of its men’s teams have had the same problem.

Those forfeitures, say some IM secretaries, are a result of the drastic differences between male and female participation in IM sports. Though the number of women’s teams are far less than that of men’s sports — 22 on the men’s side versus six for women last fall — different colleges have still had to forfeit women’s contests. Other IM secretaries, however, claim that a difference does not exist. Nathan Hardesty-Dyck ’12, Davenport’s head IM secretary, said that his college has tried to get more women to participate on its teams, but those efforts have not helped.

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“Though our IM secretaries have worked hard to recruit men and women for our teams, we have been more successful in getting male participants out to the fields and courts,” Hardesty-Dyck said.

Kyle Killeen ’12, the Stiles IM secretary, agreed with Hardesty-Dyck’s sentiments. She said it is always more difficult to get women to participate in IMs. She thinks that the difference in participation between the genders is largely due to the misconception that you have to have exceptional skills in order to play IMs.

“Women, in my experience, are more worried that their lack of skill will cost Stiles a victory,” Killeen said. “They don’t want to be the one to lose the game for us.”

Men are often more competitive and don’t want to lose a game by forfeit, and they are less self-conscious about their skill level, she added.

But three IM secretaries disputed the idea that female participation in IMs is severely lacking.

“It’s wrong to say girls always forfeiting,” said head IM secretary Peter Jasinski ’12. “All of the women’s leagues are still going strong, and I’ve played coed football with more girls than boys.”

George Harris ’11, head IM secretary of Trumbull College, said that his college does not have an issue with participation in IMs.

“Sometimes we don’t have as many women as men, but we have more than enough women,” he said.

Still, Jasinski did acknowledge that some women sports have trouble fielding teams despite their lower participation requirement.

In women’s squash, only three players are required to form a team, whereas men’s squash requires five players. Yet halfway into the season, Jasinski said there are already three female squash teams out of eleven that have had to forfeit the season because they could not meet the three player requirement.

Hardesty-Dyck, who agreed that there was a difference in male-female participation, says that he has had more trouble recruiting female participants than male ones across every sport with the exception of this year’s cross country meet, in which more women than men ran.

“Because of our overall low female turnout, our all-women sports have suffered most in terms of forfeits,” he said.

Regardless of their views, all five IM secretaries interviewed said that they are interested in increasing the number of women participating in IMs because in addition to filling the rosters of women’s teams, it is important in order to prevent coed teams from forfeiting. They said that rather than target women to achieve that goal, it would be more beneficial to increase overall participation among both genders. Hardesty-Dyck said he believes that recruitment for each incoming freshman class is critical.

“If you can find a couple freshman women who are excited about multiple IM sports, they are likely to convince their suitemates and friends to show up as well,” he said.

Killeen suggested improving overall participation by encouraging people to come out just for fun and not only for the win.

Hardesty-Dyck said it can be more difficult to find female participants simply because there is a smaller number of frequent female IM players in his college.

“On average, the women who do play are as likely to come out as the men who frequently play,” Hardesty-Dyck said.

There are 30 IM sports with eight mens sports and five womens sports. The remaining seventeen sports are coed.