Gender Gap In Sports


Susana Obando, Discoverer Staff Writer

Physical activities in society are known to promote education, individual growth, improve health and even stimulate intercultural exchange. We all, regardless of race, age, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation or socioeconomic background, have a right to practice sports in equal conditions. So why can being a woman have so many disadvantages on the field compared to men? Gender inequality has always existed, and even after gender discrimination was prohibited in the federal laws of Title lX in 1972, the disadvantages on the field for the “weaker sex” are presented every day—it seems like a never closing gap.

Not only is unfairness evident on the different sport categories, but sexualization is probably why women aren’t taken seriously. In “Achieving Educational Equity, Improving Health” Mary Jo Kane, Ph.D., reports, “…women’s sports still receive only 2% to 4% of all sports coverage. Within the small amount of coverage that women’s athletics do receive, we find that female athletes are more likely to be portrayed off the court, out of uniform and in highly sexualized poses where the emphasis is on their femininity and their physical attractiveness rather than their athletic competence.” This piece of evidence clearly depicts how all of the attention goes to male athletes, and the fraction directed to females is purely to sell merchandise. It is everyone’s right to be recognized by their own merits and accomplishments, deserving to be looked at for performance and not for fitness beauty standards.

Professional athletes aren’t the only division where gender plays a critical role: college and even high school girl teams are affected. “We do have inequality, for example in the fields: our field is a lot smaller and very few times get the chance to play on the big field (where the guys train), which is of professional size. Our field is always in bad conditions,” Catalina Velez, soccer player at TCS, said. All over the world, this problem is taking place, women can’t keep conforming to what society expects from them. Even after Title lX was established in the USA, very few places are assuming the responsibility of working towards gender-equal sports.

Women aren’t the only ones trying to speak up and change even more what society has wrongly established for them. According to The Parliamentary Assembly, “…we call on the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to work out a ‘European Strategy for Women and Sports’…to encourage women and girls to take part in sport from their school days onwards and all their lives, promote gender mainstreaming in public policy concerning sport, support women’s sport, and women’s participation in top-level sport, favour women playing a greater part in sport ruling bodies and encourage better media coverage of women’s sports.” Knowing that the problem is being addressed and recognized is at least refreshing, but only when things become completely equal will women be able to succeed in sport-related careers.

It is also valid to acknowledge that not all female players fail at getting the recognition deserved. It’s remarkable that one of the sports that women seem to get the same attention and coverage as men, is the antithesis of the expectations of femininity. Instead of the expected portrayal of the MMA as a “catfight”, fighters like Ronda Rousey have been iconic figures and successful professional athletes.

Most of people don’t realize this issue, or don’t give much importance to it, but it is a big deal. After 100 year of women fighting for rights and equality, things shouldn’t be any different now. Modern society is changing, and this should be one of the priorities to make society better.