Media fail to give female athletes a podium finish

Amanda Obst Roar Rookie

By Amanda Obst, Amanda Obst is a Roar Rookie

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    The title for the most successful gender at the 2008 Olympic Games goes to the females, but in media coverage they come dead last.

    This needs to be addressed in the forthcoming London Olympic Games.

    If we take a look at the Beijing Olympics, Australia took home a total of 46 medals; the men took 22 (48 percent), while the women won 24 (52 percent).

    It was a gallant effort by all, but why is there still gender bias when it comes to the media?

    The medal count is fairly even and should therefore dictate a similar coverage percentage. Wrong.

    According to the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) statistics, male sport received 41 percent of coverage, compared to just 34 percent for women.

    What sort of a message is this sending to our children? One that females are inferior to males, that their success is not as important?

    In Australia we already have the issue of low participation rates in sport at a grass-roots level, not to mention the lack of female participation.

    In a 2009 report from the ABS it showed that almost half of girls aged five to 14 do not participate in any sport aside from school. There is a direct correlation between the lack of female role models portrayed in the media and the lack of female interest in sport.

    This needs to be fixed.

    This sexism begins with everyday journalism and is not limited to the international stage.

    Just nine percent of Australian sports reporting is focused on women, while 81 percent of coverage is dedicated to male sports.

    This was determined by the federal government’s report, titled ‘Towards a Level Playing Field: sport and gender in Australian media’.

    Male sports receive nine times the coverage of women, an astounding figure. It isn’t any wonder that Olympic coverage is one-sided.

    Journalists are more focused on ratings and selling papers than the messages they are sending out to the nation and to the future generation.

    According to the results obtained from the ‘International Sports Press Survey 2005′, only two percent of the stories written by male jouranlists are written about female sports.

    We also see a male dominance on national sporting organisation boards. According to data supplied by the ASC, just 25 percent of board memberships are filled by women.

    We need to work on breaking the glass-ceiling and promoting sports journalism to females.

    The 2005 survey also showed that out of all stories written by female journalists, 12.3 percent are based on women’s sport.

    In attempting to break the barrier journalists are sure to increase the coverage of female sport, in turn creating role models from young girls and improving grass-roots participation.

    Yet Channel Nine, the official broadcaster of the 2012 Olympics, has included only one female in their official presenting team. That woman is Leila McKinnon, who incidentally happens to be the wife of Channel Nine CEO David Gyngell.

    She will be joined by Mark Nicholas, Karl Stefanovic, Eddie McGuire, Ken Sutcliffe and Cameron Williams. Again we see a very male-dominated arena.

    Australian media organisations need to set a precedent which then forms the platform for Olympic reporting.

    We are no longer living in the 1950s. We need to promote equity through opportunities for female reporters, as well as through coverage of female sports.

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • May 4th 2012 @ 2:41am
      Chris said | May 4th 2012 @ 2:41am | ! Report

      Why would I, the consumer, pay to watch an inferior product?

      The reality is that women just aren’t as good as men at sport. As a result there will never be as much interest in women’s sport as there is in men’s.

      It’s very unfair but that is life.

      “Journalists are more focused on ratings and selling papers than the messages they are sending out to the nation and to the future generation.” Um yeah, they are. Most of them would probably like the keep their jobs.

      It’s akin to saying “Politicians are more focused on votes and power than the messages they are sending out to the nation and to the future generation.” Not exactly ground breaking stuff.

      “In a 2009 report from the ABS it showed that almost half of girls aged five to 14 do not participate in any sport aside from school. There is a direct correlation between the lack of female role models portrayed in the media and the lack of female interest in sport.”

      There is also a direct correlation between the amount of caviar consumed in a country and the average income in a country. I suppose that must mean that if a poor country is too become wealthy it should consume more caviar. Be vary wary of using correlation as a basis for argument. It almost inevitably means nothing.

      • November 19th 2012 @ 1:07pm
        Brenda said | November 19th 2012 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

        I dissagree, Women are as interested in women as men. In fact they are just as good. If you believe that women anrt as good as me then you are 100% wrong. I believe that many people, sporting people as well are sexist. Women win sports against men everyday.

        • December 2nd 2013 @ 11:07pm
          Rob said | December 2nd 2013 @ 11:07pm | ! Report

          With all due respect Brenda, your reply is extremely ignorant. Men produce more testosterone than women, which contributes to muscle mass and performance improvement. That’s just science. Women can be extremely good and talented, even better than most men! That being said the best of the best in sport will always be men…..Not sexist at all, just a reality.

    • Roar Guru

      May 4th 2012 @ 4:42am
      peeeko said | May 4th 2012 @ 4:42am | ! Report

      it would be better if channel nice had more women presenters but as for coverage of certain events, they will cover what rates. they are a commercial enterprise

    • May 4th 2012 @ 6:12am
      ManInBlack said | May 4th 2012 @ 6:12am | ! Report

      Perhaps break down the male / female split in Olympic sports coverage.

      Because, the biggest coverage in this country is for cricket, AFL and NRL – – none of which feature in the olympics. Even Rugby 7s isn’t real SuperRugger, and the soccer is an abbreviation of senior soccer and really the Olyroos get their results reported and for most of the public that’s sufficient.

      but Sally Pearson has had huge coverage. I struggle to mention a male track athlete other than the under performing Steffenson.

      in the pool – – there was so much focus on Thorpie that I forget who else was up against him…..y’know, the valid next generation who deserve their ‘time in the sun’.

      I’ve probably heard more about Anna Meares than any male cyclist outside the Tour de France.

      The Opals vs the Boomers – – well, no Penny Taylor and no Andrew Bogut – – perhaps Bogut got more coverage?

    • May 4th 2012 @ 9:12am
      Fivehole said | May 4th 2012 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      As others have stated, it is because it is not as good a product. Not PC, but the facts.

      I really enjoy some of the women’s gymnastics, because they are the best – doing stuff the men can only aspire to where the disciplines are different.

      Power and speed sports the men have the advantage, and so the better product

    • May 4th 2012 @ 11:08am
      Bballgurl said | May 4th 2012 @ 11:08am | ! Report

      If you people use “women’s sport is not good enough” or “we want to watch the best” – why does VFL get televised? Its not as good as AFL? Why do any “second tier” male sports get televised? Sheffield Shield cricket? It’s not the best? What about NBL? It’s not as good as the NBA?

      And how about putting a lightweight boxer up against a heavy weight and see who is the best?

      That argument just doesn’t cut it boys, not PC, sexism is rife.

      • May 4th 2012 @ 12:41pm
        Chris said | May 4th 2012 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

        The second tier example is rubbish.

        It’s akin to arguing that Super Rugby shouldn’t be televised because Test Rugby exists. Or that English Premier League soccer shouldn’t be televised because it is lower than UEFA Champions League.

        As for your boxing example, I’d hazard a guess that the demand to watch a Mayweather v. Pacquaio might be a few orders of magnitude higher than the demand to watch heavyweight female boxing… just a guess. Spectator interest is all that matters.

    • May 4th 2012 @ 12:57pm
      Bballgurl said | May 4th 2012 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

      Chris I do believe you actually highlighting my point. Isn’t Super Rugby inferior to Test Rugby? And EPL to UEFA?

      • May 4th 2012 @ 2:11pm
        Chris said | May 4th 2012 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

        Obviously it is… not exactly sure what your point is. People still want to watch it and that is why it gets televised.

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