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Gender Equality in Sports: Keep Pushing the Glass Ceiling in 2021

  • Gender equality in sports showed great progress in the last years
  • What are masculine and feminine sport? How did such ideas come about?
  • Learn about how women are breaking into more and more sports in 2021
gender equality in sports
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We may criticize International Women’s Day from many angles. Yet, we object to dedicate some time and review the success and progress of female athletes today. While gender equality in sports is certainly getting better in recent years, there are issues to further work on. Find out some of the struggles female athletes have to face and their underlying causes.

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Are women playing football or basketball in your country? Do you see young girls getting more involved in school sports? Or a female coach by any chance? Often we try to simplify answers or stay away from asking such questions. Male or female, when we think about athletes we often imagine certain stereotypes. Online sportsbook news in the UK are becoming more reflective on female involvement, we hope to see more. In this article, we try to look over the rulebook of masculine and feminine sports, and rather look into the roots of gender inequality in sports. 

The institution of gender (in)equality in sports 

The inequality in sports for women is much more difficult to overcome than some people would think. Namely, because we have to think on various different levels. Women are simply less encouraged to pursue an athletic career based on societal expectations. The idea that women can’t really succeed in sports is due to biological differences. However, this argument has been luckily debunked since females have separate categories when needed. Female athletes do not claim that different performances do not exist, of course, they do, due to obvious biological differences. Rather, if we have separate categories for women we should start treating them legitimately. Sadly, still, a lot of harmful ideas exist, such as female categories being less interesting or promising. Due to the historical masculinisation of physical achievement, and in many sports like football, for example, females are still lacking a significant platform. 

In sports that society considers masculine and are in fact male-dominated, women are not welcomed either by organisations or audiences. There is a harmful double standard since even if the sporing world becomes more accepting, our society’s expectations and ideas on femininity often conflict. The idea of a feminine body and feminine presence also set unrealistic expectations for female athletes, not to mention the harsh sexism we subject to women. The media representation of female athletes often focuses on their femininity and objectification instead of strength and performance. In popular culture, we still give credit to women on issues that are either not in their control or patriarchal expectations. Hence why it is so important to hear influencing athletes speaking out on such issues. Gender equality in sports exists because we face gender equality problems in multiple segments of our societies. 

The most visible problems

Although we acknowledge great progress when it comes to gender equality in sports, there is still a lot of work. One of the most prominent complaints female athletes rightfully make is the pay gap. Whether professional players receive salaries or individual prize money from competitions, male athletes in basketball, golf, soccer, baseball and tennis make anywhere from 15% to nearly 100% more than female athletes (Source: Adelphi University). It, of course, depends on the sport and according to a BBC study, a total of 83% of sports now reward men and women equally. However, the gap has not disappeared and female athletes have to fight even harder in some fields than in others. 

gender equality in sports
In the ideal world, men and women are equal

The top highest-earning athletes are always males. In the same categories or for the same performance women are simply receive less money. While some people argue the relevance of a glass ceiling for women in sports, claiming that there are just simply fewer females entering a professional or competitive sporting career. Therefore showing a lower success rate. However, this just proves that we should be asking the right questions. If there are still fewer women finding athletic careers appealing, we should look for reasons for that. The number of available opportunities for women is arguably less compared to men. Moreover, professional athletes and the highest-paid athletes normally come from fields that males usually dominate.

What is being done? 

 On an institutional level, there are various attempts to encourage female participation. The International Olympic Committee set high goals to promote gender equality in sports in 2021. With the upcoming Olympic Games, this issue is even more pressing. The IOC is working to address these inequalities through leadership development, advocacy and awareness campaigns. In our article, we discuss the upcoming winter games’ gender balance objectives. Furthermore, they are appointing more women to leadership roles within the administration and key governance positions. These actions are definitely necessary to inspire and give access and opportunity to girls and women to participate in sport. 

The European Commission also takes initiative to promote such issues. There is a considerate increase in women taking part in sports, however, still a lack of representation in leadership. Women remain underrepresented in the decision-making bodies of sporting institutions at local, national, European and global levels. Also, coaching as a professional is also male-dominated or segregated between the sexes. We can find female coaches in sports that have a high proportion of women participants (e.g. dancing, gymnastics, figure skating and equestrian sports) and they predominantly work with women, adolescents or children. 

Male or female-dominated sports and gender equality 

The origins of female and male-dominated disciplines are connected to bodily differences but still mostly rely on ideas of masculinity and femininity. Taking in a look at some of the most obvious examples, the lack of gender equality in some sports speak for itself. There are multiple studies made on historically male-dominated sports, and also what society considers masculine sports. Most of the time, these come down to football, rugby or boxing, but since the definition of sport allows us these days, we can easily mention esports and chess too. 

gender equality in sports
If you can run as fast as a man, you deserve the same amount of money and respect as well

According to studies, such sports that we as a society consider masculine, usually involves opponents, collaboration or the ability to strategise. Whereas common examples of sports appropriate for female participation are gymnastics, dance, and figure skating. It is hard not to spot that female empowerment in these disciplines has a connection to their expressive qualities and graceful movements. These are to visually please the audience by emphasizing the athletes’ feminine physiques. Of course, slowly, we manage to overcome these ideas allowing not only more women but more men to cross categories and break out of the burdening ideas of masculinity and femininity. Let us take a look at how now, in 2021 what are the barriers that female athletes are overcoming. 

Breaking the glass ceiling in 2021 

The variety of sports betting on online sportsbooks in the UK is endless of course, and you can easily search for women’s categories. But there are a number of traditionally male-dominated sports that are becoming more and more popular amongst women too. We consider it a great idea to support such endeavours. The interest in betting on female categories in unusual disciplines shows that female athletes are gaining platform. When browsing through Unibet Sportsbook it is easy to find categories and disciplines with female involvement. While tennis is a great example of high female appreciation, some new examples we should mention are rugby, motocross, soccer or ice-hockey. There is yet so much to achieve, but previous years’ success should not be overlooked but celebrated. Find our take on the 2021 EHF European League Women Odds or predictions on the 2021 WSL Women’s Championship today! 

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