A social media campaign to equip women in sports with the knowledge and resources to stand up for themselves against discrimination.
Types of discrimination
Before we dive into the types of discrimination faced by women in sports, let's first take a look at some examples, find out why the problem exists, and why it is important to put a stop to the inequality and discrimination.
Examples of discrimination against Women in Sports
1 in 4 social media comments towards sportswomen were negative, sexist, sexualised, or belittled women's sport. (Plan International, 2019)
Women make up 40% of all participants in sport, and yet somehow receive only 4% of media coverage. Of that limited coverage, women are often objectified or demeaned. (Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport)
In Singapore, there is a lack of female representation, 20% on average, in the boards of National Sports Associations and in some sports clubs, women still have no voting rights and are disallowed to be elected as key appointment holders. (Websites of Singapore National Sports Associations, using a sample of 17 different sports.)
Why does inequality and discrimination against women in sport happen and persist?
Women in sport are stuck in a vicious cycle that has been normalised - Unequal treatment and resources, lack of voice, unequal media coverage are just some factors that drives this problem into a negative cycle that is difficult to break.
Through our interviews with female athletes in Singapore, we've also found that -
Very often, the athletes don't stand up against discrimination due to fear of retaliation or being seen as "aggressive". This creates a preconceived notion that it is better to stay silent.
There is also a lack of support for female athletes as they believe they are "on their own" and they are unsure of how to handle discrimination.
Why is it important to put a stop to discrimination against women in sports?
Female athletes drop out of sport at a younger age.
( Canadian Women & Sport, The Rally Report, (2020))
Across adolescence, 1 in 3 girls drop out of sport vs. 1 in 10 boys. Girls are more likely to quit sport compared to boys and this gender gap persists past teen years and into adulthood.
Reasons cited for dropping out:
Negative Body Image
Perceived Lack of Skill
Lacking Future Prospects
Female athletes also have a decreased quality of experience
Less resources for female athletes mean:
Facilities not being as good as the boys' venues
Coaches and clubs focusing more on the boys' program
Equipment and jerseys not as well funded as the boys
This diminishes the ability for female athletes to grow and enjoy the sport across time. Sports just isn't "fun" anymore.
With higher drop out rates, females end up losing out on benefits that come with sports.
Girls active in sports are 20% less likely to get breast cancer later in life
Girls who participated in sport have more positive body image, mental health and well-being
96% of female C-suite participated in sport as teenagers, highlighting the immense long-term benefits of playing sports
Types of Discrimination
Online / Offline Remarks
Social media abuse targets female athletes 3 times more than men.
This results in:
Lower rates of female participation in sports
Harm in their mental health and performance
Case study of social media abuse
Tayla Harris, a footy player, was subjected to sexual abuse on social media after a photo of her kick was posted online.
The combination of unequal resources and funding leads to women sports being undervalued. Overtime, if nothing is done about it, this becomes normalised and institutionalised, creating a huge ripple effect on the participation and advancement of women in sports.
Findings from our interviews with athletes:
Lack of dedicated changing rooms for women in stadiums
Poorly maintained and outdated training grounds/gyms (vs men's teams)
Less training time (vs men's team)
Men-sized, ill-fitting jerseys
Lack of dedicated medical personal for women's team during international tournaments
Less experienced and qualified coaches for the women's team
Unequal Media Coverage
In 2019, a study by University of South California and Purdue University on media coverage found that:
95% of TV coverage and sports highlights shows focused on men's sports
80% of sports news and highlights programmes devoted ZERO time for women's sport
10% of online coverage (sports newsletter, Twitter) covered women's sport
Sports Journalism remains a man's world
12% sports stories were by female journalists among the most influential news sites in Australia
11.5% sports reporters were women and the number dwindles when it comes to position of power
89% news sources were from men - suggesting that males' opinions are more valued
Unequal media coverage results in lower visibility & awareness, less appeal and marketability, lower revenue & commercial value, and being underpaid & under funded.
Microaggressions are comments, behaviours or environments that convey hostile, derogatory or negative attitudes towards marginalised groups. It may be intentional or unintentional and it can happen in everyday situations.
Microassault - blatant sexist attacks (verbal & nonverbal) that demean and hurt the intended victim
Microinsult - statements or reactions that convey a lack of respect for the recipient
Microinvalidation - communication that ignores the individual or denies the negative experiences of the individual
Due to its subtle nature, microaggressions are usually not addressed. They are silent perpetrators of gender inequality, and over time we may start to self doubt, possibly causing negative impact on psychological health.
If you have questions or any suggestions, do drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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