The Evolution of Women’s Uniforms in Sport

Women’s uniforms in sports have been an ongoing controversy in sport for years. Each individual controversy has evolved and caused a major debate on should women be allowed to choose what they wear in sport.  

One of the first controversy in women’s sport pertaining to uniforms is: should women be allowed to choose between wearing skirts or shorts in field hockey?  Women were still fighting for the right to wear shorts up until a couple years ago. For example, up until 2015 the Vancouver Women’s Field Hockey League was still fighting to choose between shorts or a skirt as a part of their uniform as the rules said they are required to wear skirts.  

Vancouver’s women and men’s Field Hockey skirt protest

This dispute sparked other debates in women’s choice of uniform, with one of the most recent cases being Norway women’s beach handball team being fined for wearing shorts, at the European beach handball championships. The rules for the International Handball Federation state that women are required to wear bikini bottoms when playing. However, this is not the case for any of the male teams. The Norway women’s handball team choose to play in shorts to try to challenge these unjust rules. Although they were fined at the time of this incident, it seems they changed the narrative on this issue. For example, The International Volleyball Federation enforced new rules for the Tokyo Olympics, stating that women can choose to compete in bikinis, one-piece bathing suits or shorts and t-shirt. This rule change would have never been enforced if it wasn’t for the many debates and women who took a stand to the sexist uniform rules before this. More recently on November 1st, the European Handball governing body changed the rules to allow women to wear shorts. 


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