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Initiatives shifting the balance in the sports sphere


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Sports has long been considered an "unsuitable activity for ladies". Female athletes still receive less media coverage and less money. Yet, sport is a great way to develop confidence. SO which are the initiatives shifting the sports balance?

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Initiatives shifting the balance in the sports sphere

  1. 1. Physical activity has long been deemed “unsuitable” for women
  2. 2. The roots of this discrepancy lie in the birth of modern sport, 150 years ago. • Victorian society viewed sport as “inseparable from the philosophy of Muscular Christianity, which defined itself against femininity and ‘softness’,” says Tony Collins, the author of Sport in Capitalist Society. It did not think much of the notion of women playing. • Nor did Pierre de Coubertin, who founded the modern Olympic Games, in 1896. He described women’s sport as “the most unaesthetic sight human eyes could contemplate” and advocated that the games be reserved for women, though a few females were allowed to compete from 1900. • In 1921, the Football Association in England deemed the sport “quite unsuitable for females” and banned its clubs from loaning pitches to women.
  3. 3. Sport is traditionally associated with ‘masculine’ characteristics • Physical strength and resilience, speed and a highly competitive, sometimes confrontational spirit. • In many societies, women who engage in sports are perceived as ‘masculine’, while men who are not interested in sports are considered ‘unmanly’.
  4. 4. Sports are predominantly divided into ‘male’ and ‘female’ domains • In many sports mixed gender participation is not accepted. • In many cases, sports governing structures and the media have send messages that confirm these divisions rather than challenge them. • Moreover, the portrayal of women and men athletes by the media reinforces stereotypical perceptions of gender roles. • Women athletes are still depicted in a way that contributes to the marginalisation of women’s achievements in sport, due to the emphasis placed on femininity and sexual attraction instead of strength and skills. • The presence of this type of coverage devalues women’s accomplishments. • Despite the considerable increase in girls’ and women’s participation in sport and a growing audience interested in women’s elite sport, there are still significant differences in the media coverage of women and men’s sports, with men’s sports receiving far more media coverage than women’s sports.
  5. 5. Female playing traditional “male sports” face many negative biases
  6. 6. Athletes face many biases from sports journalists • The Cambridge study also found that it's much more common for women to be referred to as "girls" than it is for men to be called "boys". • "Many commentators say 'girls' in sport even if they know they should say 'women'. This is because they think it's a trivial issue to do with political correctness and they forget in the heat of competition," says Woodward. • "But when you call a woman a girl you are actually infantilising her. A girl is a child. Women's bodies have long been infantilised in popular culture as youth is seen as attractive."
  7. 7. Female athletes also receive less media coverage • It's not just language where there is a difference in attitude - female Olympic athletes are still garnering far fewer column inches and given less TV airtime than their male counterparts. • Researchers found men were mentioned twice as often in the CEC and three times more often in the Sports Corpus. • When a sport was mentioned it was usually assumed that the report was about the men's game - so for example the media is inclined to refer to "women's football" and call men's football just "football".
  8. 8. Men’s sport is often considered the default • Overt gender marking is much more common for women's participation in sport, both in terms of the sport itself (ladies’ singles) and the athletes participating (woman golfer). • For example, we are more inclined to refer to women’s football, whereas men’s football is just called football. • According to the Sports Corpus, the sports where this is most likely to happen are: athletics, golf, horse-riding, sprinting, football and cycling. • While some sports may have made strides towards equality, with tennis now offering the same prize money for men and women, research suggests we will be discussing the length of Heather Watson’s skirt, rather than her chances of winning the first UK women’s gold medal in tennis since 1908. • Language around women in sport focuses disproportionately on the appearance, clothes and personal lives of women, highlighting a greater emphasis on aesthetics over athletics. • It would also appear that whilst returning female athletes, such as Jessica Ennis Hill look to defend their Olympic titles more is being made in the media of recent births and marriages than their hopes for Rio. • Notable terms that cropped up as common word associations or combinations for women, but not men, in sport include ‘aged’, ‘older’, ‘pregnant’ and ‘married’ or ‘un-married’. The top word combinations for men in sport, by contrast, are more likely to be adjectives like ‘fastest’, ‘strong’, ‘big’, ‘real’ and ‘great’ – all words regularly heard to describe male Olympians such as Usain Bolt.
  9. 9. Female athletes’ physical appearance and personal lives are frequently mentioned • When it comes to performance, it seems as though men also have the competitive edge: we see ‘men’ or ‘man’ associated with verbs such as ‘mastermind’, ‘beat’, ‘win’, ‘dominate’ and ‘battle’, whereas ‘woman’ or ‘women’ is associated with verbs such as ‘compete’, ‘participate’ and ‘strive’. • The research also showed higher levels of infantilising or traditionalist language for women in sport, who are more likely to be referred to as ‘girls’ than men are called ‘boys’. Women are twice as likely to be referred to as ‘ladies’, compared to ‘gentlemen’ who are frequently referred to by the neutral term ‘men’.
  10. 10. At Rio, descriptions of some women athletes have been called "offensive" • After Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu won gold in the 400m individual medley with a new world record, a journalist referred to her partner, who is also her trainer, saying: "This is the man responsible.” • One gymnast was criticised when her leotard "failed to complement her skin tone” • A BBC commentator was criticised too when he referred to the judo final between Kosovan Majlinda Kelmendi and Italian Odette Giuffrida as a "cat fight." • Meanwhile American swimmer Katie Ledecky was praised as being the "female Michael Phelps". • Both women were already world champions so why was there a need to compare them to men?
  11. 11. This is also due to the lack of women in sports journalism • Internationally, women represent only 10 % of positions in print media and media production. • At the 2012 London Olympics, only 15% of the journalists and photographers were women. • Gender inequalities extend into media organizations, where women hold only 27% of senior management positions.
  12. 12. 88.3% of sports reporters are men and 90% of them are white
  13. 13. What are the figures about female participation in sports?
  14. 14. Traditionally, sport has been dominated by men, both in terms of participation and governance. • Worldwide, women’s participation rates in sporting activities are lower than men’s. • Yet over the last 20 years significant changes have occurred and the difference in involvement between the genders is becoming narrower.
  15. 15. Men are more likely than women to exercise or play sport: 45% of men do so at least once a week, compared with 37% of women • 37% of men never exercise or play sport, compared with 47% of women.
  16. 16. From 0% in 1896 to 45% in Rio in 2016
  17. 17. London Olympics in 2012 were a historic turning point
  18. 18. Women represent 22% of referees in France
  19. 19. We still lack equal representation and gender sensitivity in decision-making • On average in 2015, only 14% of all top decision- making positions in sports federations in Member States were occupied by women, ranging from 3% in Poland to 43% in Sweden. • In the majority of countries the share of women in decision-making positions was below 20%. • On average, at European level, women made up 14% of decision-making positions in the continental confederations of Olympic sports in Europe in 2015. • Only 4% of the presidents or chairpersons (i.e. only one out of 28) and 9% of vice-presidents (i.e. eight out of 91) were women. The share of women among board members was 15%.
  20. 20. Within the International Olympic Committee (IOC), progress has been made, yet it remains slow. • There were no women on the committee between 1896 and 1981, while in 2014 there were 24 women IOC members out of a total of 115 (women therefore occupied fewer than 25 % of the places on the committee). • Moreover, fewer than 20% of the members of the governing bodies of affiliated bodies, such as the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), are women. • Europe has the lowest representation of women on the NOC General Assembly, which is structured into five geographical regions: Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Oceania. • Similar patterns can also be found in other European and/or national sports organisations. • The phenomena of horizontal and vertical segregation are also influencing decision-making, with women being recruited to less prestigious and lower- paid leadership positions in sports organisations. Furthermore, procedures for election or nomination to leadership positions do not usually consider gender criteria.
  21. 21. As a profession, sports coaching is also dominated by men. • Based on figures in 7 EU Member States, it is estimated that only 20% to 30% of all sports coaches in Europe are women. • At the most recent women’s football FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Cup, there were 3 male team coaches for every woman. • Women coaches are more often found in sports that have a high proportion of women participants (e.g. dance, gymnastics, figure skating and equestrian sports) and they predominantly work with women, adolescents or children who compete at local and regional levels. • However, the number of women coaches in almost all sports seems to be disproportionally low in relation to women’s overall membership of the sport.
  22. 22. Many men are coaching women and girls, even in women-dominated sports, and very few women are coaching men. • At the elite level, the number of women coaches is very low and, in cases where women coaches work with athletes at higher performance levels, they typically occupy assistant coaching positions, supporting male head coaches. • Gender-friendly guidance and coaching may reduce the high dropout rate of girls and women from sport, while also tackling sexist gender stereotypes in sport and creating a positive social and educational climate for all.
  23. 23. And female athletes face huge funding disparity • Women have fewer opportunities to play sport, suffer from inadequate coaching and facilities compared with those enjoyed by men, and have been paid meagre sums, even for playing international sport. • Women’s sport has been shaped by administration being almost exclusively a male preserve.
  24. 24. Yet, playing sports has many benefits…
  25. 25. Sport can also be used as a means to achieve gender equality through the establishment of general values such as fair play, non-discriminationand teamwork. • It can also be used to increase opportunities for girls, if local contexts and gender relations are taken into account and addressed. • Sport can give women and girls access to public spaces where they can gather, develop new skills, gain support from others and enjoy freedom of expression and movement. • It can promote education, communication, negotiation skills and leadership, all of which are essential to women’s empowerment. • Sport can also increase women’s and girls’ self-esteem and enable them to make choices about their lives. Moreover, sport can provide a channel to inform girls and women about reproductive health and other health issues.
  26. 26. Which initiatives shift the balance in sport?
  27. 27. This Girl Can is a UK national campaign
  28. 28. It’s a celebration of active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets.
  29. 29. Some initiatives promote female solo-travel
  30. 30. Female bike riders report being more free and more happy
  31. 31. Teach your girls how to fight
  32. 32. Female surfers in Iran
  33. 33. Female car racers in Palestine
  34. 34. Muslims girl fence
  35. 35. Creating new stories
  36. 36. Challenging stereotypes
  37. 37. Show your kids new movies