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International Womens Day

Investigating The Progression of Gender Equality in Sport

Robbie Coppack

As it is #InternationalWomensDay now is the perfect time to investigate the progression of gender equality and whether we are beginning to see positive strides forward to get more women involved in sports. 

According to clause 12 of the IPSO Code of Conduct, “The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individuals race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability” These details must remain undisclosed unless they are genuinely relevant to the story. 

With that in mind, it’s time to really address the potential growth in gender equality within sports and how sports women and starting to make a name for themselves, not just in participation but on-screen presenters as well. 

According to England Rugby, grassroots women’s rugby received a huge boost in 2017 to try and get women to participate in the sport. The RFU aimed for around 8500 participants however they exceeded those numbers by an extra 2500, so approximately 11,000 women participated and 3500 of those participants had never kicked a rugby ball before. These figures meant that more than 40 contact rugby clubs were formed. 

Back in 1921, Women’s football was banned from using facilities because of the ruling given by the FA that it was unsuitable for females. Show me a man who thinks he can tell women what to do and I’ll show you an idiot. Women continued to play football however there wasn’t a professional league structure and there were very little dedicated facilities. It was in the 19th Century women had no place in national politics, they couldn’t stand as candidates for parliament and they weren’t even allowed to vote. However, Several Bills were in favour of women’s suffrage gained considerable support in Parliament. So, it was only a matter of time until women would gain the vote.

However, times have changed, an organisation in the UK known as “Women in Sport” started promoting the right for all women and girls in the UK to start taking part in sports. Their campaigns aim to inspire females all around the country to go from “the field to the boardroom” Karren Brady is the leading example and is well known for the “first lady in football” tag. She is now the vice-chairman of West Ham United.

These strides forward are clear to see, having Kelly Coates present both Premier League and Football League football on Sky Sports proves that gender equality could be a thing of the past.

It amazes me how having a talented knowledgeable presenter can infuriate some viewers simply because she’s a woman, while they’ll happily sit through a male making irrelevant comments and embarrassing himself, trying to act the joker. 

 In the 2011/12 season when ESPN had the broadcasting rights for the Premier League and FA Cup, they had Rebecca Lowe has the main presenter. In May 2012, Rebecca Lowe was the first ever female to present the FA Cup final. Following this we are now starting to see more females playing a part in the men’s game. Gillete Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports have female broadcasters covering the games so main sports broadcasters are trying to go that extra mile to give inspiring young females that opportunity to reach their dreams. 

 

However, the topic that causes the most angst for women and rightly so is difference in pay packets. In a report by the New York Times, different pay structures are evident, and members of the United States women’s national soccer team included several examples of wage discrimination in their complaint to the Equal Opportunity Commission. More evidence shows that the Women had a smaller World Cup bonus’. The women’s team won the World Cup in 2015 and the team earned just $2m while the men made $9m despite getting knocked out in the Round of 16 in 2014. Some may argue men attract bigger crowds, create more revenue so are entitled to more money, however that’s not always the case and if wages were based on success, girl power would rule the day.

It’s clear we can see changes in the way women in sport are finally being treated more as equals, to their male counterparts but there are clear positive movements for women to take part in sports both on and off the field. The females presenters are influencing a younger generation to aspire to be on television and present football at the highest level on television. The women USA football team began fighting for equal pay and are the clear role model for other nations to follow suit. 

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