With all the diversity and empowering content you see on mainstream media, it is easy to think that society has reached a level in which gender equality has become a minor issue. However, time and again, issues pop up that show that there is still a disparity between the sexes. In fact, the fight for gender equality in professional sports remains to be relevant.
Inequality occurs in many aspects of the arena. From the perception that sports are a “boyish” thing to do to the inequitable treatment between men and women in sports, something needs to be done in order to close the gap. This is why members of the professional sports community work to achieve a more equitable playing field, literally and figuratively.
The issue of gender inequality and the fight against it encompasses many topics. Want to learn more about these issues? Check out the information in this article!
While women’s sports teams are highly successful in many fields, many still doubt the ability of women to compete in sports. British racing driver Jamie Chadwick is participating in a male-dominated sport, in which she became the very first woman to win the British GT Championship. While her home life did not instill preconceived doubts about her ability, she recognized that many people look down on women in her sport.
Formula One Group former chief Bernie Ecclestone said that a female driver “would not be taken seriously.” Many people also justify that the lack of marketing and media coverage of women in sports is caused by it being “not interesting enough.” Such views remain not only in this field but also in many areas, such as the workplace and in politics.
Institutional Gender Discrimination
In connection with sexist views, women face what was called “institutional gender discrimination,” as seen by the US Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT). The team filed a case against the US Soccer Federation, not only for pay discrimination but also about the quality of resources given to them. According to the suit, the organization has left them with subpar training facilities, medical treatments, coaching and even modes of travel to and from matches.
The USWNT is not the only team that has been fighting for equality. The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the US Women’s National Ice Hocke Team are all calling for an even pay. Moreover, siblings sports stars Venus and Serena Williams are speaking up against pay discrimination, which is imposed by official organizations.
Sexist views asserting that women in the field will not be taken seriously and are not interesting enough has also led to another issue: a lack of media coverage. Sportswriter Anya Lavarez has been looking at the fight of equality in professional sports as primarily led by the issue of equal pay. However, she realized that a big contributor to unequal pay is the lack of marketing and promotion.
According to her, women’s leagues are having a hard time building a fan base because of the lack of media coverage on their games. In fact, even the leagues themselves do not get enough budget to support their athletes, marketing-wise. The weak fanbase results in a lack of public support which results in less revenue. In turn, this is used by critics and institutions to justify the smaller pay women’s teams get. Moreover, female athletes get less corporate sponsorships.
However, there have been instances in which the USWNT has brought in more revenue compared to the men’s team. In fact, last year, the USWNT’s game for the Women’s World Cup final was the most-watched match ever. The team won the championship, which is already their third victory of such. Still, they received less pay than their male counterparts.
The Bottom Line
The fight for gender equality in professional sports is still relevant. With persisting sexist views, institutionalized discrimination, and lack of media coverage, the issue of gender inequality is still being fiercely fought, not only by athletes but also by their supporters.