By Pauline Shrosbree
I am often surprised when I come across men or women who deny the presence of inequality between the sexes in the twenty first century. As a woman, I know that inequalities lie everywhere, despite how far we have come as a society in trying to remedy these imbalances. I have been taking a look at the situation of women in sport in the media and it is truly saddening how often I was left looking like a surprise-face-emoji.
Did you know that the WNBA (the Women’s National Basketball Association) offers make-up seminars to their female athletes to ensure that they look pretty while they exercise? This is done in order to encourage a larger male viewership, seeing as the majority of sports viewers are men. Judging by the lack of support to female athletes, women in sport are already limited when it comes to funding, and now female sports leagues have to spend money and time on making themselves look pretty so that boys will watch them. The same goes for female cyclists. It’s important that when they cross the finish line, they are to take off their helmets and majestically release the luscious locks that have somehow remained perfect under their helmets.
Although laws have been passed in various countries across the world to equalise the situation for men and women in sport, unfortunately, we are unable to see much significant change as statistics are either outdated or extremely difficult to access. For example, research shows that British sportswomen and sportsmen receive the same amount of prize money in most sports, but the last known dates of these statistics are either as old as 2004 (or even 1995), or aren’t given at all.
On average, sportswomen earn so much less than sportsmen. Take the highest paid athletes in Britain for example. According to the New Statesman Website, Steph Houghton, the best-paid British female athlete earns £65 000 per year; whereas Wayne Rooney, the best-paid British male athlete earns £300 000 per week. Tennis is well-known for being the most balanced of the elite sports in terms of gender equality; but Serena Williams, the best female tennis player has earned £56 million, whereas Rodger Federer, the best male tennis player has earned £82 million from tournaments.
In the case of elite sports, you could even say that the system is against women. In a study conducted between the years of 2011 and 2013 as found on the Women In Sport website (from where?), male athletes received 99.6% more sponsorship than their female counterparts. With less access to resources and funding, female athletes are unable to receive adequate coaching and facilities. This means that they their chances of developing to their potential are hindered.
So there is clearly a lot that needs to be done in terms of creating a world where men and women have equal pay and equal opportunities. Honestly, the core to the problem seems to be rooted in the lack of demand for female sport – but what can we do about this? It’s time for some innovative women to get together and show them boys that the media needs us too.