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Gender equity in sport

Published:Tuesday | April 28, 2015 | 4:00 AMJennifer Ellison-Brown

Women have traditionally been associated with the arts, in general, and dance, in particular, but many sporting and adventurous activities have traditionally been seen as male pursuits.

This is a part of society's traditional view of women as housewives.

Their lack of financial independence, of child-care facilities and supposed unsuitability for certain types of competitive sport have all worked together to restrict participation.

These cultural barriers are deeply rooted and also affect the coverage of women's sport by media, potential commercial sponsorship opportunities and opportunities for female participation and progression.

Even though unmarried women had their separate Games (Olympics) in ancient Greece, the modern Games were based on male competition with Pierre de Coubertin stating that the role of women should be restricted to that of an admiring spectator. Therefore, they were not allowed to participate in the 1896 Games and only allowed to participate in golf and tennis at the Games in the 1900s.

more events

Gradually, the number of events in which they could participate increased. They were allowed in swimming in 1912, athletics events in 1928, marathon, 1984, 10,000-metres in 1988 and judo in 1992.

At the 1968 Games in Mexico, Enriquetta Basilio became the first woman to light the Olympic flame.

Today, it is possible for women to take part in almost any sport. Social changes have gradually given women more opportunities to control their lives. Gender stereotyping is gradually being broken down and female participation has increased in all areas of sport. This could be as a result of the following:

- The recognition that exercise is good for health.

- Greater economic freedom.

- Efforts by government and sporting authorities to promote sports for everyone.

- An increase in the number of activities which appeal to women.

- More role models for women.

- Increased media coverage

- More childcare facilities at leisure centres.

a man's world

Although the gap is closing, some people still believe some sport is a man's world and being competitive and muscular is not appropriate for women. Media still give more coverage to male than female sport, it is much harder to attract sponsors for female sport, there is still inequality of opportunity and the gap in prize money can be very wide and not equal for both men and women.

Women are still under-represented in management and coaching, and most sport administrators are still men.

In male sports, there are very few women to take part in these roles, but even in women's sport men often get these positions. For example, netball is dominated by male coaches and umpires. Men are in control of most sport at every level.

Women are given opportunities as coaches, organisers, umpires and referees. However, fewer women are seen in management and administrative roles.

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