Gender Inequality in Sports

by RikkiLynn ShieldsAssistant Editor

Since the Greeks discovered sports over 3,000 years ago, there has been a stigma attached to it as the “masculine” thing to do.

The first Olympic games showed men partaking in events such as the javelin throw, wrestling, human and chariot races and more. The women were excluded from these games because of the “obvious” dominant traits that all men were thought to haveover women. Since then, there has been a divide between male and female sports.

Many people believe that since women are not categorized as masculine, they are physically inferior, and less athletic than men. Things are different now, and women are able to compete in almost all of the same sports as men. However, the gap and pressure for women to compete is still there. There are many modifications that are made to most women sports and even the professional sports industry notices the gender differences and inequality.

A woman’s basketball is one inch smaller than a men’s basketball. Women play softball, while men play baseball. They use bats that are able to give them more power, and pitch underhand instead of overhand like the men. Women’s tennis uniforms consist of short skirts and tight tops, showing off their feminine forms and sexualizing them in a way that men can not be.

To some, this may be a way for women to gain more attention in the sports industry and have their sport gain popularity, because it is proven that women’s sports have far less coverage than all male sports. These modifications all present a challenge for women to be accepted in a male dominated society. Not only are women looked at as less athletic, women are also faced with many societal pressures when participating in sports because of their make up.

To understand the pressures of athletics that women face, there must be a complete understanding of gender.

“I know many sports fans who would never even think about watching the WNBA.” said freshman Eva Pugliese, psychology major at Manhattan College. “It’s obvious that watching women play isn’t as thrilling and aggressive and intense as watching a men’s basketball game. However, this is strictly a society made gender binary. This is all based on society’s view points on gender. Women’s sports can be just as thrilling and aggressive, but it’s difficult for people to see women in a masculine sense. Not many people want to see a woman acting like a man.”

According to traditional views, if women excel in sports they are not filling out their gender role correctly. For men, excelling in sports is a huge achievement. Male athletes are looked up to, and they are seen as heroes. When men excel, they gain masculinity, while women simply gain respect.

“It comes down to the talent, the location of the sport, and the media,” said freshman Tom Englert. “With male sports, there are outstanding athletes that people automatically know. Even if you don’t watch the sport you know the players names. … When someone does outstanding in a sport, it’s sort of like the bandwagon effect. … People enjoy seeing freaks of nature in a sport. On that note, men like to think of women as attractive, and seeing them have muscle with a bigger build sort of contradicts that look. There are woman who are good and talented, but I feel like the matter of competition isn’t there as much.”

To many, male and female sports should be considered equal. However, due to societal contractions and the difference between femininity and masculinity, reaching this goal is challenging.

There have been many attempts to give women less modifications when it comes to athletics. The Title IX Act of 1972 increased the number of participants in female sports. However, looking at the way society views women, equality may never be reached.

There is hope that someday we will reach full gender equality not only in sportsbut also in society.

“Women’s sports have a great potential to become even more prominent in our society, based on how gender roles are considerably changing not only in athletics, but also in other areas of society.” said Eva Pugliese.