In history, women have had to fight for their chance to be noticed when competing in sports. Throughout the years there have been many influential women who have made their name through sport. Margaret Court – won a total of 62 Grand Slam titles in 13 years. EvonneGoolagong-Cawley – of Aboriginal descent, won Wimbledon at the tender age of 19. Dawn Fraser – won the 100m Freestyle 3 consecutive times at the Olympics, one of only three people to achieve this. The Williams sisters, Cathy Freeman, Liz Ellis, Lauren Jackson, Jessica Watson – the list goes on. All these ladies have at some point been household names in Australia for their achievements in the sporting circle.
Since the beginnings of women’s sports there has been discrimination between gender, starting with the exclusion of women from the Olympic games forcing them to compete in their own Games of Hera. Inequality for women ranges from media coverage to amounts for prize money to sponsorships and scholarships. And the stereotypes are long standing ones – women are not strong enough to play sport. Women do not have the physique to play sport. Playing sport will ruin females chances of starting a family. Women cannot be mothers and be successful in sport. The list goes on.
What is Title IX? Title IX was effective from June 1972 and states that, ‘No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance’. Title IX was a turning point for women in sport and aided with the implementation of effective equality in sport between men and women.Stereotypes such as women will not and cannot be successful mothers and athletes were obliterated by Canadian Debbie Brill. Brill established a World Indoor High Jump record of 1.99m only five months after giving birth to her eldest son.
Since the beginning of sporting time, there have been numerous moments in the history of woman in sport that are important and symbolise the ever evolving equality between men and women in sport. When it was first started, the Olympics were purely for men, which forced women to compete in their own version, the Games of Hera, named after the Supreme Goddess.Golf has a large history for women and this starts in 1811, with the first women’s golf tournament being held in Scotland. Entering the 20th century, women in sport have another obstacle to overcome – physical education educators were strongly against women competing in professional competition as they believed it would make them less feminine. The turn of the century also brought about a change in the Olympiad, for the first time, women would compete. There were three women’s sports with 19 competitors total. Fifty years later, Australian Dawn Fraser wins her first of what will be three consecutive gold medals in the 100m freestyle at the Olympics. Women are brought into the international cycling world in 1958.
In 1964 Larissa Latynina sets the record for the most medals in Olympic history, 9 gold, 5 silver and four bronze. Women’s equality overstepped another hurdle in 1968, and the first woman to light the Olympic flame was seen at the Mexico City Olympics. Tennis is a common sport where equality between male and female competitors is contraversial, but in 1971, Billie Jean King wins more than $100,000 in a single season. Laura Blears Ching is the first woman to compete against men in the Hang Ten surfing competition in Hawaii. Twenty years after the first issue of Sports Illustrated was published, Women’s sports magazine releases their first issue. The first woman to reaches the summit of Mt Everest in 1975, and the first full athletic scholarship for a female is received in 1976.
In 1982, Canadian mother, Debbie Brill proves to the world that pregnancy and motherhood do not indicate the end of a woman’s athletic career. Going out of our world, the first woman to walk in space takes her steps in 1984. Another firsts milestone for women’s sport occurs in 1984 – the Tour de France establishes a woman’s league. The first person to ever win 1,000 games in tennis reaches this in 1989, and it’s a woman. The biomechanical differences between men and women are acknowledged in 1996 by Spalding sports, and a baseball glove made specifically for the female hand is created and put on the market. Proving that women can perform just as good as men, Venus Williams records a 204 kilometre per hour serve during a Grand Slam Tournament, and in the same year, the International Association of Athletics Federation announces that two more sports will be added in the Sydney 2000 Olympics which means women will now compete in the same number of events as men.
Continuing on with the Olympic trend, in 2004, women’s wrestling is included in the Olympic events. And finally, in 2012, Saudi Arabia sends women as well as men in their Olympic team, making the London Olympics the first Olympics where every Olympic team has men and women competing. America sent more women than men in their team and Women out-medaled men for the US, China and Russian teams. Although there is a few milestones mentioned here, each shows how far women’s sport has come since their early days of the Games of Hera.
So what role does the media play in all of this? If you were to search a newspaper archive such as News Bank (accessed through the UC Library website) for articles about Dawn Fraser you would find articles based around her achievements at age 19, how she burst into Australian limelight and was never forgotten. Although successful careers are outlined, are female athletes still on an even playing field with men? Are they still regarded as the successful athletes they are when compared to their male counterparts? Although we would love to be able to say yes, this is not the case, and is shown in media. In the February 2, 1998 Issue of The Australian Newspaper, John MacDonald writes an article about the Williams sisters, and branches into the tennis competition they were at. The opening of the article belittles women straight away with comments of, ‘In absolute terms, a good big or little man will always beat a good woman’, before continuing into a comparison of women’s and men’s tennis. Reading further, MacDonald reports on the semi-finals played, and in particular draws on Martina Hingis’ complexion. ‘As with many adolescents, her blotched face bespoke problems with acne and she smiled anxiously into the distance. Poor marks? Boy problems? She was just a pretty, vulnerable teenager.’ Forget saying she might just be nervous because of the big game that’s about to happen, just focus on feminising her as much as you can. Again, reading on, MacDonald proves his sexualisation of Hingis when reporting about cricket. Just one of many examples is, ‘Allan Donald, who possesses an outsized, buoyant personality to accompany his attack’. No mention of his looks, this comment is purely based on his playing abilities. http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/InfoWeb?p_product=AUNB&p_theme=aggregated5&p_action=doc&p_docid=0FC9A976F2A321CF&p_docnum=7&p_queryname=3http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/InfoWeb?p_product=AUNB&p_theme=aggregated5&p_action=doc&p_docid=0FC9A536ACB8134E&p_docnum=5&p_queryname=8
Has this blatant sexist media portrayal changed in the years between 1998 and now? You would hope so. You would like to hear yes as an answer. But unfortunately this is barely the case. In 1996, 2% of women only sports were televised, compared to 56% of male only sports. Radio coverage was 1.4% for women compared to a whopping 95% for men. But this is 1996.. Surely it’s changed?In 2004, the ratio for women’s & men’s sport coverage in the US was 9:1 in television and 20:1 in newspapers and magazines. What about Australia, in 2013? The Federal Government funded research into the quantity of women’s sports broadcasting and the content within. They found that 9% of all sports coverage in Australian news and current affairs goes to women. 81% went to men. Not only do men get more coverage, but they get lengthier coverage, on average, an extra 30 seconds. One small positive to this is that women’s coverage is very much positive – only focusing on the wins, whereas male’s get both the positive and negative, for example the ever controversial ASADA drug chase.But not only do the media focus on women winning, they focus on what they’re wearing when they do win. We can’t forget the ordeal with the women’s beach volleyball 6 cm brief ruling. And why was that? Well without ‘purposely’ doing it, they were promoting the sexualisation of women in sport, to make the sports more enjoyable for men to watch. So today, if we were to go to the Daily Telegraph website to find a women’s sports article what do we do?http://www.dsr.nsw.gov.au/assets/pubs/industry/info_mediawomen.pdfhttp://www.ilo.org/global/publications/magazines-and-journals/world-of-work-magazine/articles/WCMS_081377/lang--en/index.htmhttp://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/treating-womens-sport-like-a-trivial-fashion-contest/
First, we go to the sports home page. Notice how not one story on the page on the Daily Telegraph website relates to women? There’s talk about football, football and more football, and even an opportunity to chat with a Racing writer! How exciting. But yet, nothing about women and women’s sport.
So if you were looking specifically for an article about a woman in sport, or a female sport, where should you look? Well don’t even think about the first 3 options. Not even the first 10. There won’t even be a name. Just look for more, the THIRTEENTH option.
What kind of articles will we find, once we figure out where to go? Some about hurdling, some about surfing, triathlon, even some netball! But how are these successful athletes actually portrayed within these articles?
Michelle Jenneke is a 19 year old Australian Hurdler. She has recently sustained a hamstring injury, so it is now unlikely that she will compete in two upcoming races. But her media portrayal is not as straight forward as if it was a story about a footballer or even a male hurdler with the same injury. The main storyline of the article isn’t even mentioned before she’s named as an ‘Aussie glamour hurdler’; Straight away Jenneke is sexualised, portrayed as feminine as possible, and her image is drawn away from the successful sporting career she has already achieved by the age of 19. This again is not helped by the photo accompanying the article, a lingerie shoot picture for magazine Sports Illustrated.
Another example is Lindsey Vohn. Listed as one of the top 15 influential sports women by Total Pro Sports, Lindsey Vohn is an American Alpine Skier. Although her description in the article focuses mostly on her sport and earnings, the article is still not without a sly comment on her facial beauty, with a comment made that her dominance in the sporting field is related to her natural beauty.
There are articles that show the unfair representations and comparisons between women and men in sports.
In the article It’s not about the game: Don Imus, race, class, gender and sexuality in contemporary media, written in 2010 by 4 authors, the focus is on the print news media’s response to Don Imus’ radio shows segment about the 2007 National Collegiate Athletic Association Women’s basketball league championship game. Imus referred to one of the teams as ‘nappy headed hoes’ which led to major media attention. The article outlines how just this small controversial conversation via radio received 3 times more print media attention than the entire 2007 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. Research was done and outlined in this article about newspaper coverage of the Wimbledon championships in 2000. Coverage was relatively equal although the quality of the coverage was drawn into question. The article states, ‘The mostly male journalists who covered the tournaments devalued the athletic accomplishments of female tennis players by using cultural and racial stereotypes, trivialisation, and sexual innuendo.’ Women who participate in team sports in the US are frequently questioned about their sexuality and the sexuality of their teammates. Part of the reason for this stereotype is unlike gymnastics and tennis, team sports, such as Basketball are generally contact sports, therefore viewed as more masculine. This then results in assumptions of the athletes lack of femineity. To combat this, the WNBA started a marketing strategy that would revolve around highlighting the female athletes as models, mothers or the girl-next-door. The WNBA website in 2000 was found to have highlighted all players families, relationships and responsibilities in their player profiles.
Women In Sport & Their Portrayal By Media Outlets Part 1
Women in Sport & TheirPortrayal by Media Outlets Part 1
What issues have women faced? Gender discrimination Inequality Stereotypes
Have these issues changed?Title IX in the USEquality risingStereotypes being provenwrong
Important moments in Women’s Sport776 B.C – Women are excluded from the Olympics socompete in their Games of Hera1811 – First women’s Golf tournament is held in Scotland1900-20 – P.E educators strongly oppose competitionamong women, arguing that it will make them less feminine1900 – The first 19 Women compete in the Olympics in justtennis, golf and croquet.1956 – Dawn Fraser wins her first of 3 gold medals in the100m freestyle at the Olympics1958 – Women are admitted into the international cyclingchampionships
1964 – Larissa Latynina holds the record for the most medalsin Olympic history: 9 Gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze1968 – Enriquette Basilio is the first woman to light theOlympic flame1971 – Billie Jean King is the first woman to win more than$100,000 during a single season in any sport1972 – Laura Blears Ching is the first woman to competeagainst men in surfing1974 – The first issue of Women’s Sports magazine ispublished1975 – Junko Tabei is the first woman to reach the summit ofMt Everest1976 – Ann Meyers is the first female recipient of a fullathletic scholarship at UCLA
1982 – Debbie Brill proves that motherhood does not signalthe end of athletic careers1984 – Svetlana Savitskaya is the first woman to walk inspace1984 – The first Tour de France for women is run1989 - Chris Evert is the first tennis player ever to win 1,000games1996 – Spalding Sports markets a baseball glove madespecifically for the female hand1998 – Venus Williams records a 204kmph serve1998 – The IAAF announce two more sports will be added tothe Olympic line up for women meaning they will nowcompete in the same number of events as men at the 2000Sydney Olympics
2004 – Women’s wrestling is included inthe Athens Olympics2012 – Saudi Arabia send women to theLondon Olympics, making it the firstOlympics to have women in every team2012 – America send more women thanmen to the London Olympics2012 – Women outmedaled men for theUS, China & Russia
So what role does the media play? Archived newspapers show nothing but praise for past athletes What about discrimination? John MacDonald, The Australian, Feb 2, 1998 Are women sexualised? What about men?
Has this changed?1998 versus 2013Woman’s coverage versus men’scoverageTelevision broadcastsNewspaper reportsMagazine sexualisation
The Daily Telegraph Website, 5/4/13, Sports Page http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport
Where should we look for an article about Women’s sport? i
There are articles that further show the misrepresentation between women and men in sports
It’s Not About The Game: Don Imus, Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary MediaWomen struggle to receive respectful qualitycoverage of their sport in mainstream newsmediaWhen woman’s sports are covered, theytrivialise the athleticism of the womenStereotyped as being views as masculinewhen playing in team sports WNBA marketed athletes femineity