28 November 2021

Kicking sexism out of sport

November 19, 2012
Kicking sexism out of sport

The Olympic afterglow is fading and Team GB’s women’s success stories are slipping from front pages. Can the London Games be the catalyst for a better deal for sportswomen? Is the mindset of the media and the nation ready for change? Author Judith Cameron asks what will be the legacy of summer 2012?

Kicking sexism out of sportI am writing a book to be published next spring with the working title ‘Kicking Sexism out of Sport.’ Its aim is to be a blueprint of how such a legacy can be created. And I am keen for the input of Sportsister readers to help achieve that objective.

The book will illustrate how sport has been ‘owned’ by men since the beginning of time. It will show that, over the centuries, whenever women have tried to become involved, they have been excluded. Men set up clubs, men set up governing bodies and so it was always men who made the rules.  Including those about who could or couldn’t belong or play. Both the ancient and modern Olympics didn’t originally allow women competitors and there still isn’t parity. This inequality is the same throughout the industry – whether it is on the field, in the boardroom or in the press. And with major events now designed for global television broadcasting, in recent years sport has grown into a multi-billion pound international industry. But it remains an industry with fewer women in powerful positions than the boardrooms of the blue chip FTSE 100.

For change to come about, it must be initiated from the top and wanted from the ground. Fortunately, politicians along with policy makers now acknowledge that women’s sport needs more exposure. They recognise that not only is it appropriate for children to witness sporting role models of both sexes but that women who regularly play sport are physically healthier and have more self-confidence.

Unlike a year ago, there has been more mention of women’s sport this autumn although it has largely concentrated on the Olympic heroines. Stylist magazine’s ‘Fair Game’ campaign continues to grow with adidas coming on board as well as the charismatic Clare Balding.

But will the European Indoor Athletic Championships in Gothenburg make headlines next March? And who will remember what is special about Keirin track cycling? These are sports where our elite athletes are as likely to be women as men, but will probably return to obscurity now football has returned to our screens.

According to research from the Women’s Sport and Fitness Federation, women’s sport only gets 5% of media coverage and as a result just 0.5% of commercial sponsorship. This situation needs to change and recently, Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, Harriet Harman called for an inquiry into media coverage of women’s sport and more aggressive use of the Equality Act.

It is in the area of equality that I am seeking information from you, the  Sportsister reader. I would like to hear from anyone who has either witnessed or experienced prejudice as a result of being female when involved in their chosen sport and what happened as a result.

Your contributions will help the book reflect what is actually happening around the country. They will demonstrate a groundswell of support to challenge the present situation. With additional comments from other elite athletes, women working in the sports media, politicians and policy makers, they will compliment a rational argument for a permanent change.

Further details about the book are at www.judithcameron.co.uk and please contact me with your experiences and anecdotes at: Judith.cameron@btinternet.com

I will keep you all informed on how your work has been included in the New Year.

Judith Cameron

Image credit: LOCOG

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