As the father of two very sporty girls, it has always been embarrasingly obvious to me that there exists blatant inequality between the genders. When daughter number one showed an interest in cricket, the reactions were predictable. When she went on to play rugby at club and county level, the divide between the support and coverage of the different gender's games became all too clear. Frankly, the women's game has been seen as something of a novelty.
Now, as number two daughter develops her football (soccer) career again at club level and higher, the gender inequalities continue to be clear. I would like you to read and share the following article written by 15 year sportswoman Lizzie Moisan in which she shines a light on the gender stereotypes that have shaped our society.
How does gender inequality in sports affect the role of women in society ?
Before I go into the whole topic of my article, I would like you to imagine the scenario where a girl and a boy are told to go and play where the girl is told to go and play football and the boy is told to play with Barbies. How does this make you feel? You would probably feel that this is wrong, and then question the situation with a "why would the little girl want to run around in the mud, when she could be playing with Barbies?" And this is where society finds itself driving the scenario the way it wants it to go. With the little girl almost being forced to concede the actions that she must follow in order to be accepted into the world she lives in. You might believe that this is a lot for a 9 year old girl to have to consider, but then you won’t believe that we ourselves and others have been doing this we first arrived on this planet and into this country. But then, when the children do decide to go against the conventional ways of society and actually want to swap stereotypical gender roles, that’s when yet again our community decides to judge them on their actions. When the little boy is told, he will never be a true man when he’s older, because he played with barbies, and the little girl may also be told that she will never have poise and elegance because of the way she acted when she was at a stage of her life where her future was inevitable. And that’s when the children realise what they are doing, and feel they should cave into what others believe. This whole chain of events allows me to lead onto the main topic of my speech and how gender inequality in sports affects the roles of women in society. A key and prominent sport that has shown major aspects of gender inequality, is football. The way the media portrays women in this sport, helps us to see the ways that women are undermined due to apparent sexism. It is evident that men in football believe they are more superior to women, this may be because they don’t want to feel that a so called ‘weak’ gender can play at the same standard as them, or that the publicity surrounding them will move on and focus more on women’s football. Amongst this large problem, there is an issue circulating the football community, this is that there is a major wage gap between the two sexes. Evidence shows that the highest paid female football player earns £400,000 a year, whereas, the highest paid male footballer earns £15 million each year, the gap between the two numbers is utterly astonishing. Since the man earns exactly £14.6 million more than the female player. The large difference between the two wages prevents women’s football being seen more on television, which yet again creates less sponsorship opportunities and in turn less money to be given to the players. It is simply just a vicious circle that is almost impossible to escape from without the help of others in the community, footballing governments and of course, the media. If this pay division is not fixed in the future, then the gender separation will never be improved and sexism will still exist for generations to come. Within this, professional athletes aren’t the only ones that are affected, the majority of young girls and boys will experience segregation within their own schools and homes. For instance, when a child, preferably a boy, is playing catch, if they don’t live up to the standard of a perfect throw that perhaps a man has been able to demonstrate, then they will be told that they ‘throw like a girl’. Not only does this create an unrealistic view on men, but also forms a negative view on girls in sports. When a child is young, they are heavily influenced by adults and what they say, which can lead children to live in a close minded world, with parents that have formed an environment of elementary sexism. This can lead to young boys involuntarily becoming a masculated person they may not want to be and in other ends it can cause 66% of young girls after the age of 15 to quit their sporting activities. Simply because 7 out of 10 of them felt like they didn’t belong. I myself being apart of the short 34% have consistently participated in a variety of sporting events that are commonly dominated by men. The fact that there is such a high percentage of girls quitting these sports, surprises me, especially because they have not felt wanted within the sporting community. This causes me to believe that the gender gap is not only creating issues surrounding professionals, but it is generating exclusion and isolation for certain individuals.
Together, as a bonded community, we could have ended gender inequality hundred of years ago, but, others refuse to learn and build on the knowledge that is already found amongst the youths of today. Instead, we decide to rely on convention and traditionalism, to keep us glued together, even though it holds us back from a world of wonder and freedom. From what I have discovered, it is shown that gender inequality is found everywhere; from the football pitches in your town’s local park, to the majority of homes in this world. In the end, what involves the major stretch of differences between two genders, is what occurs in the middle. This whole topic intrigues and entices me about the concept of having to weave your way through societies maze of confusion and destruction, in order to reach the top without being judged or ridiculed for simply being of one gender. When in certain situations, the male spectrum of our country could do a simple act and still end up on top? Which makes me question the balance in our community, even through substantial changes in history we can always find our conversations to be back in time… Yet, we are evolving and developing our minds to create and form a more equal world for future generations.
Lizzie Moisan age 15