Opinion

Published on March 23rd, 2018 | by Jaanki Padania

Why is it still so tough for women to succeed in sport?

Will women ever be equally respected as men in the sports world? Will they ever be paid equally?

Years ago, women were forbidden from playing, watching and supporting any kind of sport. They were expected to get married and look after their families.

Women were always classified as “weaker” than men, and therefore sports was considered too strenuous an activity for them.

Men developed most sports for themselves and this is why sport has always been extremely male dominated.

Unladylike sports

In the 1920s we saw the beginning of high level competitive sports and skilled athletes began emerging.

However, during those years it wasn’t considered fitting for women to play any contact sports or those which involved any type of jumping. Women were encouraged to play more ‘ladylike’ sports such as field hockey, swimming, golf and tennis.

As the years went by, they were allowed to participate in more sports, but it was never as competitive as the men’s game.

Women’s sport failed to gain as much popularity as men’s.

In some countries women, myths persisted such as the one about playing sports is a potential impairment to female fertility.

There are also still a lot of practical barriers stopping women participating in sport,  including poverty and scarcity of economic means.

For women this means lack of time, a lack of appropriate, safe and accessible infrastructure and adequate clothing.

Today, we live in a world where women are taught to stand up for themselves, and over the years every industry has become more accepting regardless of gender.

But women still face a lot of criticism on a daily basis, whether it’s at home or at work. For years, the sports industry has been reserved for men with the justification of “Well, women aren’t into sports that much.”

Paid less

The challenge that female athletes still face today is that they are often being paid half or less of the sums paid to their male counterparts. There are gross discrepancies between the incomes of male and female athletes.

8 out of 10 of the highest paid female athletes are tennis players. There has always been an ongoing battle for equal pay, as in most walks in life there has been a long divide between the earnings of male and female.

But when you have successful athletes and worldwide role models with amazing talent like Serena Williams who fought for equal pay and is extremely passionate about equality on and off the court, you can’t stay quiet for long.

This year marks a decade since women won the right to equal prize money at the oldest and most famous tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon. However, many associations have been trying for years to raise the pay for women athletes, but they haven’t succeeded as much as they would like to.

The England women’s cricket team

Many fans can proudly identify every male athlete, their families, family history, what position they play in and how successful they are. But what about the female counterparts?

Not only do people not recognise them, a lot of sports fans are unaware when women’s games even take place. However, as the years go by, the growth of sport has benefitted for women too.

A lot more media coverage for women’s football and different sports is available, however it is still not as much as the men’s side.

They also use more marketing to promote women’s games globally. An amazing support system you see in the industry is women supporting women, you have top female sports journalists such as Seema Jaswal who promote women as much as they can, because being a female, they all face the same challenges.

With more women entering the industry in different fields, it looks like it can only get better for them in the coming years with the right encouragement and support.

But instead of dealing with these persistent issues, society tries to publicly shame these aspiring athletes.

Female athletes are still objectified on the field as much as they are on the streets.

Whether you are a coach, a commentator or in the audience, women are looked as commodities showcasing themselves for men’s pleasure, not as athletes of potential and talent.

Even though women are breaking records and winning trophies for their countries they still can’t seem to live up to the men’s level in the male dominated sport.

She shoots, she scores

Women are a growing fan base and the sports industry is responding to it. The sports media has stated to adapt to more women in the industry. We are seeing more media coverage of women’s sport than ever before.

Women are finally starting to have their own say, the difference before was the criticism would force women to give up their passion.

But today even with others questioning females in the sports industry, they still continue to pursue a career in what makes them happy.

Encouraging women to play sport has not only helped women have fewer health problems and land better jobs, it is also good for countries to promote stronger women, stronger communities and stronger economies.

Overall, it is impressive what’s being done to support women in sport now, different campaigns and associations are marketing new trending hash tags and products to help women and supporting impressive programs designed to support getting girls and women into sport globally.

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