As part of his work experience placement from Stonelaw High School, 15-year-old Matthew Meechan interviews Scottish Women In Sport founder Maureen McGonigle during Women’s Sports Week
THE founder of the Scottish Women In Sport charity has called for the media to examine its own ranks in an attempt to tackle gender inequality in sport.
Speaking to CommonSpace during Women's Sports Week, Maureen McGonigle said there had been improvements on gender inequality in sport but said more needed to be done, and that included assessing not just how the media covers sport, but the gender make up of the sports desks themselves.
She said: "Many issues have to be tackled here, it is not a one stop solution. Terminology requires to change; media needs to get on board. Commercial organisations have to be advised of the worth of investing in women’s sport and girls and women themselves have to stand up for their rights and ensure that they continue to participate in sport.
"As an industry they also have a gender balance issue, therefore it would be good to see more female reporters working at all levels in sports journalism." Maureen McGonigle
On media coverage, she went on: "They can ensure that they have a balance of articles and that their reporters also have knowledge and do their homework on the sport and the athlete, before they begin.
"They also should look at the way they report on women’s sport as we had several cases during the Olympics when the reporting did not reflect the success of the athlete, but perhaps the male coach behind the athlete. Also, good sports action pictures are pivotal for young girls to see their role models.
"As an industry they also have a gender balance issue, therefore it would be good to see more female reporters working at all levels in sports journalism."
On what the future holds for gender parity in sport, McGonigle was optimistic for improvement but said it was unlikely equality would be fully achieved within the next 20 years.
Inequality manifests itself in a number of ways, not least in wage differences. For example, England and Great Britain captain Casey Stoney currently earns around £25,000 a year while England and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney earns around £15.6m a year – 624 times more money than his female counterpart.
However, women's sport is growing in many areas, particularly football. Since 2011, the number of clubs and players in Scotland has grown by 64 per cent.
"There have been major strides in the past 10 years with more women participating in sport and, in particular, in team sports." Maureen McGonigle
McGonigle said: "There have been major strides in the past 10 years with more women participating in sport and, in particular, in team sports. A lot of hard work has provided a platform to further tip the gender bias as many decision makers, i.e. funders, are now demanding gender parity.
"I think there will be a major change in attitude in 20 years’ time. The yard-stick for this is to look back at the past 20 years and understand the change that has occurred.
"The genie is now 'out of the bottle' and people will continue to work to ensure parity. However, I am not sure if we will have full equality by then – that remains to be seen."
Multiple charities and sporting organisations have shown support for this year's Women’s Sports Week. Over the past few days, many sporting charities and teams have shown their support for events, which started on Monday.
Support for the campaign ranged from coverage on Sky Sports and BT Sport to Team Scotland, The Scottish Thistles, Women In Sport and Women’s Sports Trust.
Women’s Sports Week is an event that encourages young women and girls to participate in sport, whether this be through joining a sports team, starting a daily workout or simply going for a long walk.
Many companies and athletes have also given their full support for WSW. The event takes place all over the UK between 3 to 9 October.
Chief executive of Team Scotland, John Doig OBE, has spoken about how he believes that WSW 2016 will be a big success, after what he says was a very successful year for women’s sport after the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. He also spoke of some of the recognition that the athletes deserved and gained.
"I think there will be a major change in attitude in 20 years’ time. The yard-stick for this is to look back at the past 20 years and understand the change that has occurred." Maureen McGonigle
In a blog post, he said: "Women’s Sports Week arrives off the back of a great Olympics and Paralympics that inspired a nation.
"At our very successful Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards, Commonwealth Games Scotland was proud to recognise athletes, coaches, teams and community sports hubs, governing bodies and leaders for helping Team Scotland in its widest sense be successful over the last year.
"The efforts of Katherine Grainger winning a Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of becoming our most successful female Olympian, Maria Lyle and Kathleen Dawson in the Young Athlete category, Libby Clegg and Jo Butterfield shortlisted for the Para Sport Award, Heather Stanning, and Katie Archibald in the female athlete category, coach Karen Ross, the Scottish Women’s Football Team and Netball Scotland were all recognised as shortlisted nominees or winners.
"Add in the likes of Laura Muir, Eilidh Doyle, Sally Conway, Karen Darke, Alison Patrick, Sammi Kinghorn, Alisha Rees, Sophie Ogilvie, Amy Costello and para- athletics coach Shona Malcolm, who were all also nominated, and you can see what fantastic role models we have for many women and girls across the country."
"The genie is now 'out of the bottle' and people will continue to work to ensure parity. However, I am not sure if we will have full equality by then – that remains to be seen." Maureen McGonigle
He also encouraged Scots to get behind the athletes who train all year round for these kinds of competitions and spoke about the 'I’m a Team Scot' campaign which will be introduced ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games taking place in the Gold Coast, Australia, and how he hopes it will be as successful as the 'Go Scotland' campaign during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
He continued: "Their stories need to be told more. They reflect ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Being seen and heard recognises, not only their achievement, but also the contributions of their wider support networks and their local communities, and challenges perceptions.
"We hope through our 'I’m a Team Scot' programme to be rolled out in advance of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games to tell you more about these athletes. In our 'Go Scotland' campaign in 2014 we were proud to feature many of our female athletes across the 17 sports in the Games."
Picture courtesy of RMIT University
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