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'Women's sport should not be given equal coverage to men', survey respondents find

Joe Robinson
14 Jun 2019

New survey finds women's sport still has a long way to go to achieve parity

Four in ten UK viewers believe that women's sport should not be given equal coverage to the male equivalent, a recent survey has found.

The research conducted by Insure4Sport found that a staggering 40% of UK TV viewers believed that gender parity for sport being broadcast on television should not happen while a staggering 1 in 3 'do not agree the opinions of female sports commentators and pundits are as valid as those of their male counterparts'.

The survey of 2,000 people assessed the public's viewing habits of sports including cycling, football, rugby, boxing, tennis, hockey and volleyball in the UK.

Of those surveyed, almost 40% of respondents said they preferred to watch men play sport, while over 25% stated they found women to be less entertaining and over 20% were switched off because 'women are inferior at sport'.

Only 7% stated they preferred to watch women playing sport despite three-quarters of women and 68% of men addressing the issue of gender inequality in sport.

Around 10% said they actively watch male cycling on television while only around 5% said they would watch the women's equivalent.

This, however, is actually a more encouraging split than football, which had a 44/17% split, and rugby union, which shockingly struggles with a 23/6% divide for viewership.

Some of the specific responses given in the survey for not watching women's sport were both unbelievable and totally believable.

They included:

  • It’s bad enough having women commentators, never mind players.
  • I only watch sexy women
  • Mainly as most of these sports were predominately male sports and women want to do everything we do.
  • I would frown if men played volleyball or did synchronised swimming.

Worryingly, some of the responses from women surveyed reflected the closed-mindedness of their male counterparts in similarly dreary responses such as:

  • Because in my opinion, some sports are only meant for men, like football, rugby etc, women try to muscle in too much into sports which were primarily meant for men.
  • I personally think it’s not natural for a woman to play these types of sports.
  • I find them slow, weak and boring.

These opinions are having knock-on effects not only in making it more difficult to achieve equality in cycling and other sports, but also in affecting the likelihood of young women getting into sport in the first place.

The same survey found the prize money gap for an equivalent event in professional cycling to average out at £29,576.

While you may try to reason that women's races are shorter, therefore, are not worth the same payday, women's football, which is 90 minutes just like its male counterparts, also suffers from a disparity of £21m in terms of prize money.

You could also draw in the argument that women's sport creates less revenue, but viewing figures for the women's World Cup have proven that putting sport in front of the public will likely result in high viewing figures.

For example, England women's football World Cup opener against Scotland last weekend saw a peak audience of 6.1m viewers, 3.5m higher than their male counterparts who played the Netherlands in the Nations League in the same week.

This contrasts with cycling, however, which recently saw ASO pull both the women's Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallonne from the women's WorldTour over the requirement to provide live television coverage.

These attitudes are also having an effect on female participation in sport with almost 75% of women admitting they do not regularly take part in sporting activity with most citing a lack of enjoyment or interest.

Previous women's road race World Champion Lizzie Deignan commented on the findings stating 'there is obviously still a long way to go to achieve parity in sport,'

'Hopefully greater coverage of female participation, combined with more national campaigns such as This Girl Can, will continue to change attitudes towards women in sport for the better,

'The more that other women see female role models the more I hope women all of all ages will be encouraged to take part in sport themselves and hopefully more people of both sexes will watch women’s sport at an elite level.'

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