Women in Sport: Progress Still to be Made

“We need to erase the stigma which says just because women are strong, muscular, and sporty, they’re not necessarily feminine.

Le May Doan, Olympic Gold Medalist

“While impressive strides have been made for women in sport, we aren’t there yet. There is not yet gender equity in the Olympics. Women cannot earn a living as their male counterparts do in the realm of professional sport. Very few high-performance coaches are women. The media’s coverage of women’s sporting activities pales by comparison to what men have traditionally garnered.”

A review of qualitative studies shows the dramatic decrease in value of sport and physical education in children, as well as why young girls participated in sport. “Health, physical education, and sport are no longer part of core curriculum in most Canadian schoolsand many observers believe that this reality will ultimately affect their chances of becoming well balanced adults.”

Sport is valued among women and children in an ample amount today; however, it is for the wrong reasons. Sport in society has become more about competition and attractiveness to the public, and less about having fun and physical activity. Young girls are given false standards of both beauty and athleticism, never combing the two qualities. Young children are raised to impress, those with opportunity and support will be pushed into competitiveness until it is no longer enjoyable, until they ‘make it big.’

“Concerns about body shape and weight management were the main reasons for the participation of young girls. Some studies reported pressure to conform to popular ideals of beauty as important reasons for teenage girls being physically active… very active girls described gaining new skills, increased self-esteem, improved fitness and developed new social networks as motivation to be physically active.” None of the girls interviewed for the study were intrigued by competitive professional sports, advocating that athleticism and beauty standards are each their own separate things, not to be mixed.

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