Women's sports have been underreported in comparison to men in their respective sports. In 2009, SportsCenter dedicated only 1.4% of its airtime to women sports, down from 2.2% in 1999. In an article published in 2013 by Science Daily, they pointed out that over 2 years, only 3.6% of articles from five national Sunday papers discussed women sports, compared to 93.8% of articles devoted to men's sports.
Research has shown that children start to learn stereotypical attitudes towards gender-appropriate actions at a very early age, and traditional images in print photographs and advertising reinforce typical gender roles. Media plays a powerful role in shaping children's perception, more so than text as children develop a sense of visual literacy earlier than written literacy. A 1990 study concluded that two thirds of photos in reading primers were of men, often shown leading more action-packed, and significant lives than the women depicted in the photographs. Several studies have shown that women are often framed as sexual objects and lesser competitors, as well as displaying more emotion than men, in many sports photographs. Many media studies suggest that they continue to "reinforce the hegemonic image that sport is a right of passage for men." Studies suggest that in Sports Illustrated, which has been labeled the most influential sports publication, men are the preeminent figures featured in photographs and feature articles within the magazine. When women are underrepresented, there is an underlying message being conveyed that they don't belong, don't exist, or have not accomplished anything.
The pay gap in sports favors men over women considerably. Female athletes earned an average of 23.4% less than their male counterparts, in 2009. In the 2013 U.S. Open the women's winner Inbee Park received $585,000, while the men's winner, Justin Rose, received $1.4 million. Last year, the average salary for coaches of woman's teams in Division 1 was $38,191, while coaches of men's teams earned an average of $61, 534. As of 2013, women received $183 million less in NCAA athletic scholarships. Another example of this gap in pay can be seen when looking at the prize money given to the men and women's soccer teams of Arsenal. Both the men and women's teams in Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2014. The women were paid £5,000 as a team while the men received £1.8m.
A study conducted by Michigan State University found that the salaries for both men and women Division 1 coaches was determined by both gender and type of sport. It showed that coaching males has a more positive impact on a coaches salary than coaching females did, and because of this, both athletic directors and men's coaches have a high interest in maintaining and reinforcing the status quo, which indicates that the lowest paying coaching jobs are held by women.
Many casual sports fans believe that the pay gap in tennis does not exist, or that it is not as large as in other sports, but that is not the case. According to a study conducted by the International Review for the Sociology of Sport, that while prize money for large tennis events, such as Grand Slam titles, they earn considerably less in smaller tournaments and over the course of their career, based on evidence from the 2009 season. Still, tennis remains as one of the most popular pro sports among women, due to the fact that it pays so well. There are very few women who are attracted by the money they can earn in their respective professional sport, other than tennis.
Many people have tried to explain the reason for the pay gap, stating that women's sports gain less attention than men's sports due to the fact that they are less interesting and men are superior athletes. Another reason people point to is that women's sports are less profitable than men's sports. According to information from the Department of Education, one-third of women's basketball programs were profitable in 2010.
There are some who believe that the problem in trying to explain the gender pay gap, is that they are trying to justify why it exists instead of addressing the problem of why it exists in the first place. As Karen Farquharson, Associate Dean for the Faculty of Life and Social Sciences, at Australia's Swinburne University of Technology said,"It's a broader, more societal issue about the value of women in society. Society is patriarchal and male-dominated, sports in particular. Sport is controlled by men." She continued by saying,"Women aren't as strong as men, but that doesn't mean the sports aren't as entertaining and aren't as competitive. That's what sport is about too...It's a vicious circle. People [in charge of broadcasting] think folks aren't interested so they don't televise so people don't see it and it goes on and on."
On 30 March 2016, five top players of the U.S. women's national soccer team filed a wage-discrimination action against the U.S. Soccer Federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Due to the pay gap between female and male professional soccer players, Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn, filed a federal complaint accusing U.S. Soccer of wage discrimination. The complaint alleges that women on the national soccer team make about 40% of what their male counterparts do.
Traditionally, the views of women's involvement in sports has led many to believe that they are absent from inclusion altogether. For much of history, most of the discussion around women and sports was centered around health risks for upper-class, white women, while excluding those of non-white or homosexual orientation. As of 2013, female athletes receive an average of 63,000 fewer opportunities than men at NCAA institutions.
Women's participation in various sports, such as boxing or rugby union, has grown in recent years. However, there is still an undertone that they don't belong, by calling in to question their sexuality or femininity. A 1993 study conducted by Michael Messner found that women were described using words like "girls" and "young women", while men were described using words like "young man" and "men" but never as "boys." The same study found also found instances of women's successes and failures being described as "her little jump hook", adding to the notion that women are less talented or skilled than their male counterparts.
Recent examples of domestic violence against women in various sports have highlighted the deeply rooted misogyny present in most sports. Similarly, the masculinity that is involved in many sporting activities allow men to assume that they have "the right to vent their anger on the bodies of women and to discriminate against women in a number of different ways, including sexualizing and marginalizing them" says Kath Woodward, Professor of Sociology at the Open University.
Many of the messages that are delivered to male sports participants are about being tougher than your opponent, and the toughest one wins. The worst thing to be called or compared to in sports is a woman, and the quickest way to cut someone down. Coaches and pop culture constantly deliver messages that emphasize hyper-masculinity. However, all too often the societal frame of being a man is one that undermines women. These behaviors are seen as normal in the male-dominated sports world.
The sexism experienced by women in sports also tends to be more overt, and less subtle, than sexism in other work and organizational settings. Sexist remarks made in many workplaces have been discouraged by displays of social disapproval and the potential threat of organizational reprimand. This has forced misogynistic views to be more subtle in these settings, taking the form of microaggressions or remarks in the form of benevolent sexism. In the sports industry, in comparison, overt sexist remarks are still commonplace and tend to result in less public backlash than similar statements given in other settings.
In 1972, Title IX was passed, a law that requires all educational programs receiving federal funding to provide equity for both boys and girls. Over the years, the law has been subject to over 20 proposed amendments, reviews, and Supreme Court cases. Thousands of schools across the county are not in compliance with Title IX. The law covers all educational activities that receive public funding, so even though sports receive little public funding, they are still subject to Title IX, and are the most well-known application of the law. Opponents of the law say that has led to a break down of men's sports, pointing to the number of schools and institutions that have dropped sports since the enactment of Title IX, such as wrestling and cross-country.
Prior to the law, only 295,000 girls participated in high school sports and they received only 2% of the athletic budget. In 2010-2011, that number had risen to 3.2 million girls playing high school sports across the country.
Various studies have found that those who participate in high school athletics have higher wages, educational attainment, and educational aspirations later on in life. The rise in opportunities to participate in sports has led to a similar rise in labor force participation, which leads to more women with positive earnings.
Since the enactment of Title IX, women have made strides in college athletics over the last few years, however, they still see less spending per athlete and fewer opportunities to participate, compared to men. Furthermore, the more prominent a school's football program is, the less expenditure the female's receive in relative terms. Similarly, southern schools and African American schools are more likely to violate Title IX. Patrick James Rishe from Weber University has concluded that the absence of football would allow schools to more efficiently comply with gender-equity laws.
Aside from the participation of women playing sports, there are many women who desire to obtain a management position within the industry. For the past thirty years, there has been an increase of women in top management positions in sport, but men still hold the dominant roles. Factors such as the pay gap discrepancies, lack of opportunities for women in a male dominant industry, and lack of media coverage for women, have led many to believe that gender inequity within sports is very prevalent. While there are women who enter top management positions in this industry, men typically receive a greater number of opportunities. This is very prevalent in positions such as Athletic Directors, Assistant Athletic Directors, Deputy Director of Athletics, or Senior Associate Athletic Directors. According to the NCAA, only 8.3% of Division I athletics directors are women. Only 21% of college women's athletic programs are headed by women, and women fill only 33% of all administrative jobs in women's programs. In high school, less than 20% of athletic directors are women, and less than 40% of directors of physical education are women. An American Society of New Editors (ASNE) newsroom census report in 1991 showed 63.1% of newsroom were men and 36.9% were women. In 2012, the percentages had not changed. By 2013, the statistics were slightly worse, showing 63.7% were men and 36.3% were women. These statistics provide an insight on the gender imbalances in the sport industry for men and women with the same positions.
There has been several researches conducted in attempt to analyze the difference of leadership roles between men and women in the sport industry. A study conducted by Alice Eagly and Steven Karau, two professors of psychology and management, explored the social role theory and role congruity theory in relation to how women and men assume different career and social roles based on societal expectations. Through the role congruity theory, Eagly and Karau explained similarities between gender roles and leadership roles, which suggested prejudice toward female leader and potential leaders take two forms. "The first form showed a less favorable evaluation of women's potential for leadership because leadership ability is more stereotypical of men than women. The second form showed a less favorable evaluation of the actual leadership behavior of women than men because such behavior is perceived less desirable in women than men." This research established view points and supportive information on why there are less women in leadership roles than men throughout the sport industry.
Many women who work in the sport industry tend to report several instances where they experience sexual harassment. According to Katie Simmons, "a woman's main role has always been to be a wife, and then a mother. Women have been stereotyped for years as being the less intellectual and weaker sex." Women are often objectified in the sport industry, and judged solely on their aesthetics. Discussed in the article Sports Journalism Has A Major Sexual Harassment Problem, women working in the sport industry infrequently report incidents where they have experienced sexual harassment and inappropriate comments throughout their careers due to fear or losing their job. One occupation that frequently experiences sexual harassment in the sport industry are female sport media print professionals. Female sport media print professionals are typically sports editors, sportswriters, sports columnists, and sports reporters.
Women working in this sector of the sport industry have reported numerous incidents where they have experienced threatening comments, sexual abuse and harassment, or some form of intimidation. According to a study conducted by the Journal of Sport Management, over 50% of 112 respondents reported they encountered some form of sexual harassment over the past 12 months prior to the study. As reported by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida in 2012, 90% of sports editors and 88% of sports reporters are men. The disproportion between men and women in this position may discourage female sport media print professionals from reporting such incidents of sexual harassment according to an article published by Christina Coleburn.
In the book, "Sexual Harassment in the Workplace", Mary Boland argues that sexual harassment is a personal attack on a woman's mind and body, that installs fear and violates her right to bodily integrity education, and freedom of movement. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) "working women face higher risks than men from job-related stress, and one of the most noxious stressors sexual harassment." In reference to the toll that it takes on women, Boland states "victims suffer physical, mental, emotional, and financial losses that can be devastating."