Charity founder calls for the media to look inward to tackle gender inequality in sport


Founder of Women In Sport charity has called for British media to look to themselves in an attempt to tackle gender influences in sport
FOUNDER of the Women In Sport charity, Maureen McGonigle has spoken to Common Space about how the media can take a look at themselves in an attempt to put an end to gender-influences in the world of sport.
McGonigle stated “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.
She has also saidon the subject of what needs to be done to bring about equality: “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 organisation has to 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.
She has given her views on what the media must do by saying : “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 require to look at the way the 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.
“I think there will be a major change in attitude in 20 years’ time.
“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.
She believes that if different aspects towards people’s attitude is changed, it would be a huge step forward.
“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 Women’s Sports Week 2016 as the event reaches its midpoint.
Over the past few days, many sporting charities and teams have shown their support for the Women’s Sports Week event, which started this 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.
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.
“What fantastic role models we have for many women and girls across the country.
"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.
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.”
There has been a big step in recent years towards bringing women’s sport up to the same level and high esteem that men’s sport is held in but there is still quite a bit to go before women stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts.
One example of this is that current Arsenal Ladies player, England and Great Britain captain Casey Stoney currently earns around £25,000 a year whilst England and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney earns around £15.6m a year, that’s 624 times more money than his female counterpart.
Whilst it is fair to say that men and women aren’t at the same level just yet. Multiple women’s sports have grown in recent years, particularly in football. Since 2011, the number of clubs and players in Scotland have grown by 64 per cent and could rise by a lot more by the end of the decade, if programmes and campaigns like WSW succeed in what they are trying to do.
Photo Courtesy of RMIT University
By Matthew Meechan