Under-representation of women in sport
This letter is in response to the continued neglect, by our local media outlets, to highlight our women’s achievements in sport.
A recent example of this was in The Royal Gazette article posted on October 8, 2019 regarding the Bermuda Bicycle Association’s President’s Cup race. Categories for this race are adult male, adult female and junior. In the article detailing the race results, women’s results were allocated one sentence. Sadly, this unbalanced media coverage is nothing new in the sporting world, both locally and abroad, and continues to be pervasive.
On a global basis, what little media coverage there is for female athletes tends to focus on more feminine sports such as gymnastics and figure skating.
The perception that women’s sports are less exciting and slower than men’s is a common theme. Statistics claim that 40 per cent of all sports participants are women, yet women’s sports receive only about 4 per cent of all sports media coverage. And, of that limited coverage, women are often objectified or demeaned; viewed as women first and athletes second¹.
In professional sports, the gender pay gap is substantial, and this was recently highlighted by the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the US women’s soccer team.
Unfortunately, there have been local examples where this gender pay gap exists, where the male winner is receiving more than the female winner, which is difficult to comprehend when sports on island are in no way contributing to a private profit.
According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, male athletes get $179 million more in athletics scholarships each year than females do.
Additionally, collegiate institutions spend just 24 per cent of their athletic operating budgets on female sports, as well as just 16 per cent of recruiting budgets and 33 per cent of scholarship budgets on female athletes².
This gender bias is signalling to girls and women that their accomplishments are not as important or as worthy as those of their male counterparts; and it is discriminatory.
By the age of 14, girls are dropping out of sports at twice the rate of boys, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. And by age 17, after most girls have gone through puberty, more than half of them will have quit sports, according to a survey sponsored by Always, a maker of sanitary pads.
What’s even more shameful is that those women that remain in athletics and tirelessly commit to the juggle of life, work and motherhood are often questioned as to who is looking after their children while they train or compete. How many athletic fathers are stopped and asked that same question during a workout or on the golf course?
We need to do better to recognise the accomplishments and value of women in sport to ensure our girls have role models to look up to at every level and are incentivised to stay with sport for life.
As a starting place, and where applicable, we would like to respectfully request that The Royal Gazette devotes equal column lengths to women’s and men’s sport going forward.
CORA LEE STARZOMSKI
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