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Sexism still rife in sports industry

Sarah Jones
world cup

Think outdated and offensive views on women are a thing of past? Think again. With International Women’s Day just around the corner, a survey of 2,000 people nationwide to find out their attitudes and beliefs on women in the sports industry. Contributor Sarah Jones, Marketing Director – Insure4Sport’s

Whilst almost 3/4 of respondents recognised there is inequality in sports, the results of the survey are startling. When it comes to sports professional salaries 1/4 respondents think male footballers deserve greater pay than their female counterparts, 40% of those respondents were men and only 14% were women.

Age also divides opinion as only 18% of those under 25 agreed that male footballers deserved to be paid more than female footballers, as opposed to 28% of those 35 or older.

Tournament prize money was also a key talking point however almost 3/4 of respondents agreed the Wimbledon winning prize fund should be the same for men and women. A clear insight from the survey was the belief that women are not given the same opportunities as men to become sportspeople from an early age.

Less than half of respondents think girls receive the same amount of encouragement as boys to participate in sport at school; 36% of under 25’s (people who recently have left school) believe girls get less encouragement to play sport – an indication that gender inequality within physical education is an ongoing issue.

Other key findings include: 40% of respondents do not believe women’s sports should get equal TV coverage to men’s sports. Over a third do not agree the opinions of female sports commentators and pundits are as valid as those of their male counterparts. Nearly a third of women admitted they prefer to watch men play sport over women.

Responder’s viewing habits also showed a significant bias towards watching men’s sports rather than women’s sports.Out of the 22 sports which respondents were questioned on, volleyball and hockey were the only two where respondents were more likely to watch the women’s game; 38% would watch the men’s football world cup every time, compared to just 12% who would watch the women’s equivalent.

Similarly, for the rugby World Cup, almost half of respondents said they would choose to watch the men’s version, as opposed to just over a quarter who would choose to watch the women’s.

When asked why they chose to watch men play sport over women some of the responses were appalling: “I am less likely to watch women play sport because…”

  • It’s bad enough having women commentators never mind players.
  • It’s poor quality, they’re not as skilled, it’s like watching kids play.
  • I find them slow, weak and boring.
  • I personally think it’s not natural for a woman to play these types of sports
  • They dress inappropriately
  • I only watch sexy women.

Shockingly some of these responses were from women. Whilst many of the beliefs expressed showed a clear difference in opinion between genders, none was more striking than the difference around the idea that ‘women are inferior at sport’ – 18% of men gave this as their reason, compared to just 6% of women.

Respondents also recognised that the lack of TV and media coverage plays a major role in why they do not watch women play sportsa, with 1 in 4 stating this as their reason.

So it seems that these results serve as an important and timely reminder of the journey we still need take in order to tackle gender bias, sexism and inequality.

Sarah Jones, Marketing Director of Insure4Sport’s parent company Ripe Insurance, said of the findings: “I was surprised to see these results and to discover just how sexist many people’s attitudes still are towards sportswomen – especially at a time when we should be celebrating women’s accomplishments.

“There is clearly a real need for progress in the competitive sports industry and it’s so important that we support movements such as International Women’s Day. Constantly pushing for equality will help us shine a light on instances of sexism and stop women being deterred from taking part in sports.”

The UK’s Attitudes Towards Women In Sport