On June 3, 1972, the U.S. government passed Title IX, an amendment that forbid gender discrimination in any workplace, including education, athletics, and businesses. While Title IX did push employers to reconsider their views on women, it did not spark enough change to diminish inequality in sports completely, particularly with issues involving pay and harassment. Oftentimes, women have to work harder to prove their abilities, which can be challenging in an uncomfortable work environment. This issue needs to change at its core, so women can be respected and not bound to the sexist stereotypes present within the sports industry.
According to Goal Five, about 45 percent of female athletes have faced sexual harassment. Since 2015, 40-41 percent of female athletes have faced gender discrimination, proving the gender imbalance in the sports world. Unfortunately, this maltreatment starts at a young age due to the endless opportunities for young boys to play sports. On the contrary, it is much more common for young girls to join boys’ teams because there is an unequal number of girls’ teams for them to join.
Additionally, disordered eating is often an effect of women being sexualized and objectified in sports. About 94 percent of young women or girls have faced issues involving body shaming, and a large percentage among girls in sports. Furthermore, according to Goal Five, females in sports are 8.3 times more likely to suffer from anorexia and 14.5 times more likely to suffer from bulimia due to the mistreatment and shaming of women throughout the industry. Disordered eating is just one issue that stems from the disrespect of women on and off the field, on ice, on court, and others. These illnesses have both mental and physical effects on women and can be life-threatening.
Another inequity women face in the sports industry is lack of engagement from broadcasting channels. According to Statista, 43 percent of individuals over 18 answered that they have never streamed a women’s sports game, whereas, only 22 percent say they have never streamed a men’s sports match. Ten percent of those same individuals said they stream a men’s sports game every day. A regular argument for the difference in streaming is that men’s games are more interesting to watch due to the physicality of men’s sports, making them more exciting to view in person or on the screen. Nonetheless, women make up 40 percent of sports, so only airing four percent of women’s sports is unacceptable. It is essential to broadcast a wider variety of women’s sports in order to drive more people to watch them.
In recent years, one of the biggest issues in the sports industry is wage disparity. According to “Goal Five,” female athletes earn 80-83 percent as much pay as men. The statistics may not seem terrible, but the examples entirely display the problem. According to Balance Now, an average male basketball player in the NBA is paid around 5.3 million dollars a year. Conversely, a WNBA player gets paid an average of 130,000 dollars a year.
The most striking example of the wage gap in sports was between the men’s and women’s USA National Soccer Teams. From 2015-2022, the United States Men’s National Soccer team won 41 percent of World Cup matches and went to the finals in zero percent of their World Cup appearances. On the other hand, the United States Women’s National Soccer Team has won 81 percent of their matches and reached the finals in 50 percent of their World Cup appearances. Nonetheless, the men’s team earns 18.1 thousand dollars for a win in the qualifiers of the World Cup, with the women earning only 3,000 dollars, according to ESPN. Women’s soccer has had significantly more triumph, earning four world cup wins while the men’s team has earned zero. The discrimination is evident here when one looks at the success of both teams, this is one example of a problem that seeps into various sports, such as tennis and golf.
Although these systematic problems may seem like they do not apply to a high school environment, there are 1.3 million fewer opportunities for girls to play sports in high school, . according to Goal Five. Emphasis on sports for young girls is necessary for the growth of women in sports across the world. Although Andover focuses on equality in all aspects of life, students tend to be attracted to boys’ sports games instead of girls’. The majority of the time, the stands are filled with students for a boy’s hockey game, but the stands are generally emptier at girls’ hockey games.
Title IX forced the U.S. to reconsider the importance of women in our society, but the fight continues, as seen from the systematic problems that women continue to encounter in the sports industry. The statistics highlight the multiple problems that are combined to create a hostile work environment for women. Women should be able to exist in the athletic community without the fear of body shaming, sexual harassment, or receiving a lower pay to their male counterparts. Excuses have been made by men for years, as they tried to explain their horrific behavior, but it is time for it to end once and for all.
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