As International Women’s Day draws to a close, I thought I would share some of the headlines specifically around women in sport that have caught my eye over the past few weeks. I had hopes of writing a clever, opinionated article, but truth be told, I was poorly prepared and ran out of time, so thought that this was a suitable alternative!
I’d love to know some of your thoughts on these articles – I’m still not sure on my thoughts on a lot of them, particularly around gender quotas in management so apologies if my arguments aren’t always as structured as they could be…but hopefully you’ll enjoy a read!
Ah, the quota argument. I still don’t know what I think about quotas, preferring to be there on merit rather than because of my gender ticking a box. But maybe that’s something that we have to suck up and deal with for a while to make it the new normal. We shouldn’t have to, and we shouldn’t have to use funding as a punishment – especially when those most likely to get their funding cut don’t really need the additional funding in the first place…
It also brings the question of representation matching that seen in the sport in general – should we now be getting a quota into female-dominated sports such as netball to get more men in its management? The Women In Sport board (they produced this report) is 100% female…how long until we have people clamouring that this shouldn’t be the case.
However, the more and more women we see in sport, the more we are exposed to it as the new norm – giving young girls and those early in their careers aspiration that gender shouldn’t be a barrier to getting the job they want.
We linked to this article earlier via Twitter. An interesting spin by an older journalist discussing the relevance of the word ‘girls’ in this context. It’s hard to find a word that can be used without someone feeling marginalised – I had a discussion about this in the office today as to whether to use ladies, women or girls in email copy about the England cricket team. I’ve written about This Girl Can before – and my problem wasn’t over the semantics, but more about the lack of general campaigns, media and publications designed for those who already do. #thisgirlcan rolls off the tongue and seems to have hit the nail on the head for most – but is it restricting it to a younger audience?
Which ties in nicely to…
This is basically my mum in a nutshell! There are so many women out there doing things that some wouldn’t think of as “age appropriate” – and they are a huge target market. So why aren’t brands catering towards them? My mum is a zillion times better on a singletrack than I am, has a bike that makes teenage boys swoon and is frequently challenging herself so much she falls off in bushes.
And never have I seen so many netball articles in a short space of time! Driven off the back of increased Sport England funding, lots of people have had something to say about netball (I’ve picked two, but you could find plenty more)
I fundamentally disagree. I LOVE getting back on court – currently restricted to mixed leagues with my work team because I just don’t have time to add another sport to my repertoire, but maybe that’s because I’ve always loved netball. I’ve got great memories of the school team, tours abroad and playing all my way through university. But maybe that’s because I was the “ruthless teenage girl” that apparently a lot of netballers are.
Again, I fundamentally disagree. Or maybe we just disagree on what’s cool. Showing speed, agility, perception and great skill is apparently not cool. How are we ever going to grow the game if those playing it are sabotaging its appeal? Look at the game down under – a huge following, a professional league and crowds that often rival rugby. Why aren’t we focusing on talking about the incredible skill in the Australia v England game in the recent Quad Series – rather than spending time writing articles about how netball is uncool and then others having to defend their corner? P.S on another note, THERE WAS NETBALL ON THE BBC! WIN!
The Swedish football team have switched the names on the backs of their shirts for inspirational messages and tweets, designed to encourage more young women to believe in themselves. However,what’s wrong with keeping your name on your shirt AND being inspirational? Surely there’s space! The shirts have gone on sale today and with messages such as “believe in your damn self” and “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss” – I reckon they’ll go down a treat. Plus some of the proceeds will go to support young Swedish athletes.
“When is men’s sport week/international men’s day” etc etc are commonly asked questions. The answer: every week. Every day. As referenced in this article, 95% of sports coverage is about men. That is A LOT. It shouldn’t have to need a specific week or day to push it to the forefront.
Ah rugby. Such great strides in building a new women’s competition, but let down by keeping out Lichfield, one of the prominent teams in the game, for no apparent reason. The only team from the Prem not to be included (they’re currently 2nd and have been in the top flight for 15 seasons AND have produced countless internationals) and it looks like there is some political clashing with the RFU at the centre of it. One step forwards, two steps back…
However, on the flip side, Sara Cox is making history as the first woman to referee a National League One game. Female refs are on the up (think Claire Hodnett & Amy Perrett if you want to see who else is making waves) and there is nothing to suggest it won’t keep rising…and that will hope to quash claims about women not knowing about the game. I’d love to see this continue up to Premiership level and above, because apart from tradition and convincing a few old boys that it is totally acceptable, there is absolutely nothing preventing this. But one of the key questions? “Do they still call you sir?”
But it’s not all bad news! Barbara Slater (the Beeb’s first female head of sport) talks about the advances we’ve made and the changes in the industry since she’s been involved in it. We haven’t got it right yet – but it’s a damn sight better than it used to be.
Ah, the lure of the double header. As the 6 Nations returns to our screen this weekend, we’ve seen several instances where the women’s game has immediately followed the men’s at the same venue, aiming to capitalise on the existing crowds. Is a double header a slick way of increasing audiences – or forcing us to depend on the men’s game without developing our own style and independence? I think it’s a step in the right direction, and ultimately, if we do double headers well, they’ll make themselves a redundant concept.
So err, that’s a lot of articles. But still a comparatively small proportion of the general sports articles that are out there, but it’s a shame that so much of it has to focus on the transformation, the shift to equality, and the comparison against men – instead of the quality of the sport, the competition, the result, the drama. But I live in hope!
Anything caught your eye on International Women’s Day?