Inequality of Women in Sport

By Zoran V

Inequality of women in sport has been around for many years. Dating back to Ancient Greece where women were not allowed to play sport but rather stay at home and take care of the children, cook, and take care of the house cleaning. This changed over time and women were soon given the opportunity to play sports. In todays society, there are still signs of inequality for women, for example – salary, game rules, opportunities, and participation rates to name a few. A BBC Sport study revealed that 30% of sports still continue to reward males more highly than women. Some of these sports include golf, cricket and squash (Katie Gornall, 2014). The biggest deficit seems to be in soccer, where the study revealed an example where a men’s and women’s soccer team received $1.8 million and $5,000, respectively.

There are many different stereotypes surrounding women in sport. Women are often viewed as fragile, feminine, quiet, and attractive (body image). Due to these stereotypes, women are often drawn away from sport. There are other reasons why women can be drawn away from sport such as constraints, body image, lack of self-confidence, and competitiveness. In order to keep women in sports and increase the participation rate, we as a society should include more recreational services that will attract women to participate. These services do not need to be competitive at all, just a form of physical activity that will get women back into sport.

Many sports have different game rules for women compared to men. An example of this would be hockey in which women are not allowed to body check where as men are. The fan base at men’s and women’s games might be different because of this. Some individuals just think that men’s sports are more fun to watch. I personally think women’s hockey is just as fun to watch as the men’s. In an article written by Rick Paulas “Why Women Will Never Beat Men in Sports” has some good arguments to look at. One of which includes the phrase “he/she throws like a girl” which to Rick, makes no sense. He believes that women are just as skilled at sport as men are. There are two distinct roadblocks making it look like that’s not case. The first one is the fact that females are not given as much instructions as males during their adolescence/growing-up-period (Rick Paulas, 2013). The other roadblock is that sports were made for designed for men, to be played by men. As far as we can remember, all sports were created in an era where women were viewed to be in the kitchen preparing food, and taking care of children. Paulas (2013) believes there are currently two categories for sports, male sports and females playing sports designed for women. He strongly disagrees with this notion that society has portrayed about women in sport.

The number of opportunities for women to go further in sport has decreased in my perspective. At a certain point in a woman’s sport career she will not be able to go any further in the sport. Women’s hockey for example, after university hockey there really isn’t a higher league for women to go that they will get paid thousands of dollars to play. Males on the other hand, are able to reach professional levels such as the AHL, and NHL and be getting paid as little as $500,000 in the AHL and over a $1 million in the NHL. Women are playing against women, and men against men, there is no difference and there should not be a difference in pay or level of play.


Katie Gornall, 2014. Women in Sport still facing inequality over prize money. (BBC Sport).

Rick Paulas, 2013. Why Women Will Never Beat Men in Sports.


6 responses

  1. Good Post Zoran!

    You brought up some interesting points that I have never considered. For example, I was not aware that young girls were not given as much instruction in the area of sport as compared to young boys. Although I do feel that society is moving closer to gender equality in many ways, there are clearly still huge discrepancies, such as in salary. I definitely agree that women deserved to be paid as much as men; however, I think that society is very far away from it at this point. It is not as simple as organizations agreeing to pay them more; a larger demand needs to be created to watch women’s sports, leading to more ticket sales, media coverage, and more money to pay the athletes. The media wants to broadcast events that will bring in a huge audience and make a lot of money. If society can move past the typical stereotypes of women in sport, and see them as the talented athletes that they are, I believe demand to watch their sports would increase. If the demand to watch women’s sports increases, the media coverage would follow, and then there would be more money available to pay the women the salaries that they deserve. Unfortunately, until society moves past the typical gender stereotypes, I think that women will continue to be under-represented and underpaid in the sporting world.

    Chris M

  2. Great Read, Zoran!

    You mentioned so many great points as to why there is still so much inequality in women’s sport today. One of your points that I can relate to personally is the amount of competitiveness in sport and how that factor can draw a female athlete away from participating in sport. When I was younger I dropped out of a couple different sports because I didn’t like the level of competitiveness involved. Having more recreational facilities offer a greater amount of non-competitive activities and sports for women is a great idea to help them overcome their barrier of competitiveness. I have also recently done some research on how stereotypes are affecting women in sport. Much recent research suggests that stereotype threats have a major influence on the performance of female athletes and when they are exposed to certain stereotype threats they perform poorly due to an extra amount of pressure that is placed on them. I believe that female athletes can perform just as well as male athletes but we often don’t get to see this, due to stereotypes and a lack of opportunity. Hopefully with time we will see a positive change in the female sports world.

    Cassie S

  3. Zoran,

    I thought this was a great post! I feel like it really relates to everything we have been discussing in class and the core meaning of the course. I found the point you made about the rules for men and women’s sports often being different very interesting. I wonder if we changed the rules in women’s hockey to match those of men’s hockey, would people be more interested in watching? Or is there a lot more to it?

    I also found your research by Rick Paulas to be interesting. I had never considered the idea of young boys receiving more instruction than young girls, but now that I think about it, it might make sense. I think a lot of the time, people see little girls attempting to throw or kick a ball and think “good for her” and that’s it. When people see a little boy doing the same thing, they might think that he’s doing what he should be doing and because of that, could use some instruction. I think physical education teachers and parents are key in turning this mentality around. Emphasis should be placed on encouraging and assisting both boys and girls in order to give them all a fair shot at being the best they can be.

    This idea made me think back to my childhood. In elementary school, we would often take a piece of equipment from the gym outside to play use. I don’t remember receiving much instruction when messing around with a soccer ball or basketball, just encouragement for doing it in the first place. This seemed to happen in the actual gym too. It seemed the males in the class had higher expectations placed on them than the females did. Who knows what type of effect this had on the young girls. I think there is a lot of work to be done in this area but with time and education, things can really turn around.

    Molly M.

  4. Nice post Zoran,

    I thought your post was really interesting and brought up some solid points that we have discussed in class. I also believe that one of the biggest inequalities that females in sport face, is salary and prize money. Having been a soccer fan for over 15 years, I have seen the salaries of professional male soccer players consistently rise compared to the female salaries that have stayed consistently low. The top female soccer players in the world can earn around $300,000 US a year; if they are playing in one of the top two leagues. When you compare this to the top player in mens soccer, Lionel Messi, who just signed a $27 million US per year deal that will last him until 2018. This difference is far too big and although mens soccer gets more media and TV coverage, they are still playing the same sport at the end of the day.

    I also agree with the comment you made about having more recreational and leisure leagues made available for women. I am a coach for the FDSA and have seen co-ed leagues work in young age groups but I know this is not the case for all sports groups. When competitiveness is brought into the question it can be off-putting for some athletes, so by creating recreational leagues, solely for the purpose of physical activity and fun, we could see an increase in the participation rates of female athletes in sport.

    During high school I found that the teachers would spend more time with the male athletes who were good at the sport. I went to a high school that aimed to produce top sports teams and was very proud of that. However, one of the downsides for people who weren’t as naturally gifted as others, was that they wouldn’t get the same technical attention as the more talented students. At that age, learning all the technical skills required to be good in sports is essential for their development. The girls and less talented males would therefore be pushed to the back and have to fend for themselves. I believe this comes down to teachers who are under-trained or have forgotten the fundamentals needed to teach the group as a whole and not just talented individuals. Having yearly or bi-yearly refresher courses for coaches and teachers could reduce the amount of times this happens in sport.

    Oliver J

  5. Great Post Zoran!

    I really enjoyed reading your post! You touched on a few points that really opened my eyes and things I may have never considered. I found the points that you stated from the article by Rick Paulas that females are not given as much instructions as males during their adolescence/growing-up-period is something that I can relate to. In elementary school, I was placed in a basketball competition called “NBA 2 Ball” with a boy from my class, and we had to compete against other schools. I found that our teacher would focus primarily on my partner, and didn’t give me much instruction at all. I would get positive feedback while shooting the basketball like “good job”, “next time”. Where as my partner would be taught proper shooting techniques.

    Also, I couldn’t agree more with your points on Women’s Hockey. I believe that watching women’s hockey is just as exciting as watching men play. Although, the fan base might be different between men and women’s sports, because it’s said that male sports are more fun to watch. However, If you think back to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, I’m not sure how anyone could say that the Final between Canada and USA in Women’s Hockey wasn’t exciting to watch. This is just one example of how exciting/interesting female sports can be, with that being said hopefully over time we will see a positive change in the fan base of female sports.

    Kayla P

  6. Great read Zoran.

    You touched on some very interesting and relevant points in regards to women’s sporting opportunities, or lack there of, and the roadblocks as to why there are still gender inequalities in sports.

    Unfortunately, the salary and opportunity for women will continue to struggle unless the women sports organizations are able to generate as much income and profit as males. With minimal demand for women sports to be broadcasted in comparison to male, the media will continue to overlook women sports because the main focus is mass audience and significant amounts of money. Despite female athletes being just as talented and hard working. By eliminating the stereotypes of women, could this help increase professional opportunities for women in sport?

    It was an interesting point that you made in relation to the research by Rick Paulas. I had never considered younger boys receiving more attention than girls, but I can see how this can be the case. At a younger age, it is essential to learn the technical elements of a sport to help the athlete develop regardless of gender. Negative experiences leading to drop out rates, could be a result of younger girls and boys that are not as naturally gifted being brushed aside in their growing up period. I also believe that physical education teachers are a key element to eliminating this issue, and making the focus point encouragement of both boys and girls.

    Implementing recreation opportunities for women would be a great idea to bring sport back into women’s life. One of the major barriers to girls participation is the competitiveness of sport, therefore if positive, comfortable environments could be introduced I believe the participation rates for girls/women would increase.

    Lucy P.

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