New feature: A question of (sexism in) sport

Despite plaudits from politicians, women’s sport gets less media coverage than men’s sport, says Natalie Davis, and sports pages largely feature women as eyecandy not athletes

The British Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony, held last week, highlighted a year of sensational sport. Now in its 56th year, it recognises sporting achivements across the disciplines – from football to ice skating, from tennis to snooker. Yet of the 56 years it has been running, only 13 of its winners have been female – less than 25%. Have British sportswomen achieved less? Do they lack the profile needed to win this award? Or is this figure representative of a deeper crisis in how women’s sport is viewed and valued in our society?

In August this year, the country celebrated the Ashes coming home. Yet the Ashes were, in a sense, already home. The England women’s cricket team held on to their Ashes title in July, adding yet another achievement to an already outstanding year of success. In March, the England women’s cricket team won the World Cup in Australia. This was followed by victory at the Twenty20 World Cup in June. Yet the media attention given to the women’s cricket team relative to that given to the men’s team is almost non-existent. You’d be forgiven for thinking England doesn’t even have a women’s cricket team.

In an official capacity, the women’s team were given the recognition they deserved, for example, a reception at Downing St and captain Charlotte Edwards was awarded an MBE. But this failed to translate into substantial media coverage. We’re talking about the performance of one of our national sporting teams, yet nobody is apparently interested. The transfer of a league two footballer is likely to get bigger headlines.

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