Name: Michelle Gianotti
Student Number: N8299447
Tutor: Emily Mann

Running like a Girl: How Equitable is the Playing Field when itcomes to Womenin Sport?


Sexism in sport is an issue that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserves, due to the large amount male dominance. Professor Bruce Kidd quoted, “It is heartening that so many public and voluntary sports and physical education organizations have embraced the challenge of gender equality. It means that more and more girls and women may receive the same benefits which boys and men have enjoyed for years, and their fair share of the social resources available . . . It is not enough simply to extend the programs which males have enjoyed to females. Given the differences in needs, interests and circumstances, and the diversity of the female population, it will require careful ‘needs based’ planning and innovative programming.” The Australian Sports Commission (ASC), through its Women and Sport unit, is working towards achieving greater recognition of women’s sport and female athletes throughout the media, and improving and creating leadership opportunities within the sporting community.

Artefact Analysis

The YouTube film, ‘ Nike Ad, If you Let me Play’ promotes the different health issues of why women, both young and old should be able to play sport. The inventors of the short film/ad use all different types of women from different cultural backgrounds to support feminism and gender equality in sport. The film does not focus on the negatives such as poor funding or media coverage but instead, the film/ad uses many different types of women and girls ranging from all ages stating the health issues women might face if not participating in sport. By watching this short film/ad it is apparent that the inventors are building an emphasis, that by allowing women to play sport it can make a difference to their lives.The underlying message of this ad, is that sport can be a powerful force for individual and collective change. (Wolff & Kaufman, 2010).

Public Health Issue

In all countries it is true that all women are less likely to participate in sport than men. (Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group, 2008)Sports participation as a component of health- enhancing physical activity is an important public health issue and the benefits of an active and sporting lifestyle in relation to well-being and health. (Van Tuyckom, Scheerder& Bracke, 2010, p. 1077).

Although gender equality is not a prioritized health issue, the lack of participation in sport by women has been known to lead to health issues such as, low self-esteem, poor body image, depression and anxiety. Participation in sport can be life changing for a women or girl at any age, as women can form friendships, support networks and decrease social isolation, which will then result in women having a voice and regaining low self-esteem and increase health (Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group, 2008). By letting women participate in sport many health issues will be erased from todays society, as they will gain more self confidence, have 60% less chance of developing breast cancer, learn to be strong, be less likely to suffer from depression, less likely to conceive a child before they wish and be more likely to leave a man who beats them. (If you let me play, 1995)

Literature Review

Women and girls have gradually made an increase in the participation in sport as the participation rates have increased (Acosta and Carpenter 2006). However study has shown, over the past 10 years there has been very little change in the participation of women in sports. (Australian Sports Commission, 2003) This can be due to the lack of acknowledgement that women receive in both leadership and participation as sporting greats.

Sport participation on a regular basis is known to have positive effects on one’s health. Sport can be relieve stress, increase mental wellbeing like depression and anxiety and can have a positive impact on one’s body image and enhance self-esteem. (Sport Participation, 1999) Study has shown young women participate in sport for the wrong reasons of wanting to become skinnier which then gets perceived as beautiful which is a leading health issues in today’s society. (Allender, 2006).

Women have earned their places in the halls of parliament, on the front line, and in the boardrooms, and working mostly as equals alongside their male colleagues, but the equality difference in sport is discriminating. In 2008, the top viewed television programs on free to air were male sports. (Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, 2009) One of the big problems with equality among sports is the media, only 8.7% of TV news coverage is devoted to women where as men have 81.1% (Towards a Level Playing Field, 2009). By having male sport dominate the television is only portraying one message that male dominated sports have more of an import on Australian television. Even mixed sports are missing out on equal viewing time on Australian televisions as only 2.8% of mixed sport shown at appropriate times (Towards a Level Playing Field, 2009). To improve TV news coverage there has to be an increase in journalists covering female sports, as at the moment there is only 82 journalist covering the female sports compared to the 250 covering male dominated sports (Towards a Level Playing Field, 2009).

Australians have been portrayed as ‘ Sports Mad’ and known to other countries to be a ‘sporting nation’. Kevin Mitchell recently commented about Australia, ‘‘in a country generally blessed with sunshine, sport dominates nearly everything: news bulletins, pub discussions, the timing of weddings and holidays, and the standing of politicians.'' (Broderick, 2010) But unfortunately the achievements of our sportswomen are often invisible and overshadowed by the male athletes.

Cultural and Social Analysis

Equity in sport is not only a recent problem, it a problem that has been in this world for many years and is a part of our history (Flanagan, 2008). When looking into the sporting world it is evident that sport has been a central setting for the development of a distinctive version of masculine identity and a support of sexiest ideas (Henricks, 2006).

There is a need of visibility of women in conflicts and the Feminist peace and conflict theory reflects the silencing of women and works to analyze gender equalities. (Weber, 2006) Women have been discriminated on, not only in today’s society but also in the world of sport. Though as we are moving towards making progress towards equality, there is no way that women’s sport is equal to those of men as funding and support are so different, even though in society the rolls are encouraged to be filled by men and women as a whole. (Flanagan, 2008).

It’s evident that today’s society has a long way to go to make sport equal for both male and female. Although there are polices that are in place that are trying to make a difference with this problem of gender equality, society is more comfortable with women playing traditionally female sports like netball where as boxing being played by males. It is the coeducational sporting groups and universities that have sport opportunities for both sexes but the funding is still extremely unequal (Flanagan, 2008).

Sport has been to know to increase one’s self-esteem, confidence, poise and self-assurance and there comes a positive outcome of participating in sport (Wolff & Kaufman, 2010). Sport is one of the only activities that can bring people from all different, ethnic backgrounds, friendship groups, races and people of all ages together. An activity that is not only about winning and competing, sport is also about the health and wellness of the people in society. It is by playing sport both men and women can gain great health benefits like decreasing chronic heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and can reduce the risk of some types of cancers. (Corbin, 2011) But is the women who gain the most health benefits from participating in sport, they can have up to 60% less chance of developing breast cancer, they gain more self confidence, and gain a voice to stand up for themselves. (If you let me play, 1995)

Analysis of Artefact & Own Learning Reflections

It has been highlighted, even with the strategies put in place, that gender equality has progressed in many areas, but sport is still subject to male domination with undertones of sexism. Upon reflection, this assignment has enabled me to see the connections between the socio-cultural environment and the equality in sport. Sport does not only bring people together but can increase one’s health. I have also gained the understanding of the connections between gender inequalities within sport with a feminist approach. Before studying this subject I didn’t really notice the differences between men and women in sport. This subject has allowed me to research in depth into something I believe now needs to be changed, as women deserve the same rights as men, not only in society but in sport. Sport is not only for men, but also for women as well. Both sexes can benefit from playing or participating in sport. I believe with the help of the media, government and sporting communities’ women can be seen and better presented as positive role models in sport.

Reference List

  • Acosta, R. V., & Carpenter, L. J. (2006). Women in intercollegiate sport: A longitudinal study-twenty nine year update-1977–2006. Unpublished manuscript, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY.

  • Allender, S., Cowburn, G., & Foster, C. (2006). Understanding participation in sport and physical activity among children and adults: A review of qualitative studies. Health Education Research, 21(6), 826-835. doi:10.1093/her/cyl063

  • Australian Government: Australian Sports Commission. (2003) Towards Better Sport. Good Practices for Women and Girls in Sport. Canberra, ACT: New Millennium Print

  • Australian Government: Australian Sports Commission. (2011) Good News Stories about the Benefits of Sport. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government Publishing Service
Cerise, S (2008)
  • Broderick, E. Women in sport hitting the grass ceiling. (2010) Retrieved 29th October 2011 from

  • Contract notice: Department of broadband, communications and the digital economy seeks advertising services (australia): 2. (2009, US Fed News Service, Including US State News

  • Corbin, C.B., Welk, G.J., Corbin, W.R., Welk, K.A., Sidman, C.L. (2011) 9th Edition Concepts of Fitness and Wellness A Comprehensive Lifestyle Approach (PP.101-111) New York: McGraw-Hill

  • Flanagan, K. (2008). Gender Barriers in Sport. Retrieved 23rd October 2011 from
  • Henricks, T. S. (2006). Play reconsidered: Sociological perspectives on human expression. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

  • Image 1 – Equality in men and women
Retrieved 01st November 2011

  • Image 2 – Nike 21
Retrieved 01st November 2011

"The artefact that you have chosen really does put out a great message that by women participating in sport they can gain so many health benefits and increase there well being. I agree that women deserve the same rights as men, not only in society but in sport.I think you have done a great job! You have made the connection between socio cultural environment and the equality in sport. This is a great assignment =)"
This is really strong Wiki, i have also chosen this artefact. it is a very strong and powerful advert. I really enjoyed reading your different points and the great statistics that you have found.It was also really interesting reading about the same artefact, i believe the artefact was great in that it did not state the negatives on why women are missing out like media, instead that it is stating the positives women/girls will receive if others will just let them play. Over all this is a great assignment Good work