Men feature as much as 10 times more than their female peers in sports media coverage, according to the preliminary findings of a European project.
Spread over two years until the end of next year, Women in Sports aims to increase awareness about insufficient and inappropriate coverage of women’s sport and reducing gender stereotyping in media coverage.
Funded by Erasmus + Sport, the project collaborators are based in the UK, Sweden, Greece, Romania and Malta.
The Foundation for the Promotion of Social Inclusion Malta has over the past month monitored English-language online portals to analyse the kind of exposure that women get in sports news compared to men.
The monitoring exercise will be replicated in the coming months, and the local data will be compared to the other four countries’, followed by a discussion about what can be done and how to raise awareness.
Female athletes were referred to collectively, while men were given individual, personal coverage
Referring to search results collated between August 28 and Thursday, Madalina Cristiana Pop said that on average, male names featured seven or even 10 times more often than female names or a combination of names.
Female athletes were often referred to in a collective manner, while men were given individual, personal coverage.
Men’s names were prominent in the case of football games, boat or regatta contests, waterpolo and car-racing competitions.
When it comes to coverage of sport disciplines such as cycling, weightlifting or darts, women’s names were reported next to their male counterparts. Women were more visible in younger age categories and activities and sports programmes for children.
Meanwhile, just two out of 40 news articles studied gave a female athlete prominence on their front cover.
In her concluding remarks, Ms Pop said the research confirmed theoretical literature stating there was lack of coverage of female athletes in the media.
During a discussion following a presentation of the preliminary observations, it was noted that while the mentality was changing, there should be a push for fair coverage rather than positive discrimination in favour of female athletes.
A participant said it was also up to sports associations to feed journalists with information about upcoming competitions and to promote their participants.
Another participant pointed out, meanwhile, very few sports activities took place in August and September in Malta, and media monitoring should be carried out during the busier months.
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