Support female athletes worldwide and help #BreakTheBias in women’s sport
As women’s sport continues to make great strides, here are a number of practical ways you can demonstrate your support to ensure it continues to grow.
Women’s participation and visibility in sports is, thankfully, on the rise. Deloitte predicts that women’s sports will grow to be worth more than a billion dollars in the years ahead as the gender gap in men’s and women’s sports revenue begins to close. The entire sports industry should invest in creating more opportunities for women’s sports for it to increase its commercial worth. While women’s sports have come to generate substantial TV viewings, leading to greater broadcasting opportunities, the same can't be said for the coverage of women's sports in the media as Deloitte found that TV ratings for women’s sports are not matched by its representation in media coverage. An analysis of 250, 000 news articles found that women’s tennis grand slam events received 41 per cent less coverage than the men’s events.
There is still much to be done, however, to better support female athletes and to #BreakTheBias in sports.
Championing a level playing field
As the call for gender parity, equal representation, and the end to discrimination continues globally, it is affirming to see positive advancements for women in sport.
The Australian Football League (AFL) launched its AFL Women's national semi-professional Australian rules football league for female players back in 2017. The Olympics introduced a mixed relay triathlon back in 2020. The United Kingdom launched a domestic cricket tournament Hundred giving equal footing to women’s and men’s teams. Well-known athletes like tennis star Emma Raducanu and gymnastic Simone Biles have elevated focus at a global level regarding the importance of protecting the mental health of female athletes. Plus, there has been a raft of activity thematising women's sports issues around equal pay, sponsorship, coverage, and more.
Advocating for women in sport
There is still a considerable amount of work to be done. A study by Purdue University found that hat in 2019, coverage of women athletes on televised news and highlight shows, including ESPN’s SportsCenter, totaled a mere 5.4% of all airtime which is a negligible change from the 5% observed in 1989 and 5.1% in 1993.
According to the LA Times, major TV networks in the United States are shifting their cultural attitudes and giving women's sports, and athletes, a bigger spotlight. Los Angeles-based Fast Studios is apparently aiming to launch a Women’s Sports Network that would see a 24-hour television channel dedicated entirely to female athletes, both while in game and off.
Former ESPN executive, Carol Stiff, comments: “For far too long, we have been off to the side. We have fabulous athletes who work as hard as the male counterpart. And, finally, we have an outlet for all of these women’s stories and competitions. It’s just time.”
Elevating the visibility of women athletes is one way we can all celebrate female athletes, giving them the extra support they deserve.
Show your support for female athletes
So, how can we all help female athletes rise and end gender disparity in sport?
- Empower girls from a young age
The value of encouraging girls into sport from a young age can not be underestimated. Offering opportunity and gender equality for young women throughout their school years can instill a passion in sport from a young age to encourage greater lifetime participation.
- Equitable pay
As with many industries, there is a gender pay gap in sports. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), for example, has received significant media attention in relation to the gender pay gap in cricket. Wimbledon Tennis Championship and the World Surf League have been reviewing and championing their commitment to equal pay.
- Enjoy the game
Purchasing tickets to watch favorite female sports teams reinforces to the media that women’s sport can certainly pull in spectators and draw a crowd. Increased participation also encourages sponsorship, and so can help generate greater marketing spend for promoting women's sports and pay for women athletes.
- Make your voice heard
Grass-roots activism is as important as any. Attend a game with your friends or family. Host a women-focused sports night at home and help increase TV ratings for women’s sports.
- Support their teams
Buy their merchandise, become a member of their clubs, attend their games, get involved in your local sporting community activity.
Encourage children's participation
From a young age, and not solely the girls, educate and support children to actively champion women athletes and help make a significant impact through their support. The Peterson Institute for International Economics has found that girls who play sports in school tend to do better in school, resort less to drugs, and have better health than those who don’t play.
So what are you waiting for?
Help support the 2022 International Women’s Day #BreakTheBias theme by championing your favorite women in sport.
Check out how further women athletes and sporting communities are breaking the bias.