Lesson 6 Sexism and Sport 3.2

Cultural Diversity
In & Through Sport
Lesson Six:
Sexism and Sport
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication
[communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible
for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the session you should be able to:
• Describe the term sexism
• Identify how sexism is manifested using sporting examples
• Examine own attitudes towards sexism
• Explain the consequences of prejudice and discrimination
• Identify ways in which attitudes can be challenged
Task: Warm Up
In groups discuss the following questions:
• Are certain sports more suitable for males than females and vice
• Are there stereotypes for males and females who play certain
• Why do you think fewer females play sport than males?
Gender Stereotypes
The culture of sport presents problems:
• It is seen as male dominated
• Male traits – competitive, aggressiveness, physical strength
• Not feminine or ‘girly’
Task: Gender Stereotypes
What do you think the stereotypes are for the following athletes?:
• Male gymnast
• Female rugby player
• Male hockey player
• Female bodybuilder
Definition of Gender Discrimination
• Gender discrimination is prejudice or discrimination based on a
person’s gender
• Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors are often based on stereotypical
ideas of gender roles
• Gender discrimination is not only on a person-to-person basis but
can also be institutionalised
• It is often associated with ‘gender supremacy’, in that one gender is
better than the other
Task: Sexism in the Media
In groups discuss the following questions:
• How does media encourage sexist attitudes?
• Discuss how film, TV, newspapers and books encourage sexism
• Think about male and female stereotypes and characters
Sexism in the Media
• Sports women continue to be underrepresented in news coverage
• Often women are referred to in in a sexual or demeaning manner
• Descriptors involving sports skills are often absent from descriptions
of women athletes
• Descriptors used for men – big, strong, brilliant – are different from
those used to describe women – weary, fatigues, vulnerable
Task: Sexism in Sports Coverage
In groups, look at the sports section of the newspaper provided
• Discuss the quantity and quality of women’s sports coverage
• Consider the photographs used
• What is the ratio of coverage between male and female sporting
events and/or athletes
Sexism in the Media
• According to Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation, only 5% of all
sports coverage in the media is of women’s sports
• In a sports fan research survey carried out in 2012, 61% of
participants would like to see more women's sports
• A report by the Commission on the Future of Women's Sport found
that women’s sports only gets 0.5% of all sponsorship in the UK
• 61% of the female respondents in the Women's Sport and Fitness
Foundation survey agreed that seeing successful sports stars
encouraged them to get involved in sports
Case Study: Sexism in the Media 1
Study of basketball commentators:
Men’s basketball
Women’s basketball
146 descriptors suggesting
95 descriptors suggesting
38 descriptors suggesting
103 descriptors suggesting
Ratio 3.84:1
Ratio 0.92:1
Case Study: Sexism in the Media 2
Study of tennis commentators:
Men’s basketball
Women’s basketball
59 descriptors suggesting
51 descriptors suggesting
10 descriptors suggesting
24 descriptors suggesting
Ratio 5.9:1
Ratio 2.1:1
Case Study: Sexism in the Media 3
Study found that in tennis, last names were used much more for men
while first names were used for women
• Females were referred to by first name 52.7% of the time
• Males were referred to by first name 7.8% of the time
Case Study: Sexism in the Media 4
• Sky Sports presenters in the UK, Andy Gray and Richard Keys were sacked for
making sexist comments about a female linesman:
Click here.
Sexulisation of Female Athletes
• Sport is still considered a masculine domain in our society.
• It is very clear that the institution of sport promotes compulsory
• Female athletes can feel a pressure to conform to a heterosexual
image which is often hypersexualised.
Sexulisation: Case Study
• Anna Kournikova is a retired Russian
professional tennis player.
• She was one of the best known tennis
stars in the world, yet she never won a
singles title.
• Most of her fame has come from the
publicity surrounding her looks and her
personal life.
Celebrating All Athletes
BBC Sports Personality of the Year
Nominations made by sports editors:
• In 2012, a bookmakers gave the follows odds for a male versus a
female winner:
– 1:2 that the winner will be male
– 1:6 that the winner will be female
Accessing Opportunities
Women tend to have less opportunities to participate in sports:
• Sport is dominated by male athletes, coaches, managers, commentators
• Equipment is often designed for men; in 1996 Spalding produced the first
baseball glove for women
• Royal and Ancient Golf Club in Scotland lifted its longstanding ban of
women playing in the Open Championship in 2005
• Women in sport receive less money than their male counterparts;
Wimbledon has only offered equal price money since 2007
Men v Women’s Pay: Cricket
Captain’s of England*: The difference between men & women’s pay in
Women’s Team
Men’s Team
Charlotte Edwards
Andrew Strauss
£175,000-£200,000 +
* Details correct as of August 2012
Men v Women’s Pay: Football
Captain’s of England*: The difference between men & women’s pay
in football:
Women’s Team
Men’s Team
Casey Stoney
Steven Gerrard
Lincoln Ladies
£8.5million +
* Details correct as of August 2012
Power Comments
Sepp Blatter, FIFA President was asked in January 2004 how women's
football could be made more popular. He said:
• "Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in
volleyball. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so,
and they already have some different rules to men – such as playing
with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female
aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?"
Positions of Power: Case Study
International Olympic Committee:
• Reached their goal of having 10 % female members in 2000.
• Of the 106 national Olympic committees, 5 have female presidents.
• Out of the 34 international sport federations that participate in the
Olympic Games, two are led by a woman.
Task: Challenging Sexism
• Working in groups, identify ways in which sexism can be
challenged and women can be given equal opportunities
Female Role Models
• Two of Team GBs best female athletes, Sally Gunnell and Jessica Ennis:
Click here.
Women in Sport
A brief overview of women’s achievements in sport through history:
1884 - Women's singles tennis competition started at Wimbledon.
1900 - Charlotte Cooper became the first British women to win a gold medal at the
1952 – Jeannette Altwegg became the first British women to win an individual gold
medal at the Winter Olympics
1960 – Anita Lonsbrough became the first female BBC Sports Personality of the Year
after winning a gold medal in Rome
1964 - Mary Rand became the first British women to win an Olympic gold medal in
1972 - Mary Peters won the Women's Pentathlon at the Munich Olympics
1992 - Sally Gunnel wins gold at the 1992 Olympics in the 400m hurdles in Barcelona
2004 - Dame Kelly Holmes won two gold at the Athens Olympics and Dame Tanni GreyThompson won her 11th gold Paralympics’ gold medal in Athens.
2008 - Team GB women won 7 gold medals in total at the Beijing games.
A Long Way to Go
BBC Sports Presenter, Gabby Logan, made a documentary in April 2012
about sexism in football:
• She was reluctant to even do the documentary because: “No-one wants
to look like they are moaning.”
• She was shocked that “in 2012 some people have been locked out of
training grounds for being a woman.
• She also noted a “lack of representation at the top of the game with
Karen Espelund the only female on the Uefa executive committee.”
• For the full article, click here.
Challenging Sexism
To challenge sexism in sport, it is important to have:
• Women’s Development Officer posts
• Increased opportunities for women to participate
• Role models
• More women in positions of power
• Legislation
Thought for the Day
• An anti-sexism advert from the Kick it Out campaign:
Click here.