Gender equity has been an issue in society since the beginning of time, in recorded history, one can find many accounts of where women faced issues of equity in relationships particularly in athletic areas because scientific proofs point out the fact that the average man is stronger than the woman in terms of capabilities but modernization in civilization has predominantly kicked out various mindset as pertaining to this. Sport has always been assessed as a hyper masculine entity, and therefore, women are perceived as intruding on male boundaries but, it is inherently evident that society has in turn bridged the gap between and against gender, specifying and categorizing various roles and functions each gender is presumed to ‘play’.
TITLE IX AND EQUITY IN SPORTS
Title IX requires that women be provided an equitable opportunity to participate in sport. It was initially enacted by the federal government to provide equal educational opportunities in sports for men and women, but was eventually used to create opportunities for women. Title IX was of great importance in increasing the participation of women in sports, but women still face scrutiny and stereotyping because of social norms, which define women as being fragile, less capable, and passive, now that we have created a prefix and a plausible introduction to this concept were going to be taking a look at why inequity is still persistent and the effects it causes or has caused to the female gender as relating to sports.
EFFECTS OF GENDER SPECIFICITY IN SPORTS
According to old and recent research, it is credible to state that the participation rates of women in sports are essentially much lower than the participation in sports of males. The main legal guiding principles of Title IX are not necessarily based on the fact that men and women have equal interest rather Title IX requires institutions to award total financial aid to male and female athletes in proportion to their athletics participation numbers but to treat males and females equal in terms of recruiting or in terms of the benefits all athletes receive, this interest ratio from recent studies has not necessarily been observed as political advantages are taken in favor of the male gender.
One general effect that this has caused is women tend to be apathetic to sports due to societal stigmatization, women are most likely to be stigmatized and socially harassed than men as relation to sports. In countries in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, women are most likely to be regarded as “tomboys” because of how the activity changes their feminine appearance in an attempt to seclude the female gender to what is predominantly called a “male thing”.
Gender inequality and inequity has become an institutionalized practice within sport organizations and it’s been said that there is a lack of women in leadership positions in sport due to the fact that sport is a gendered institution and that all processes operate within a hegemonic masculine norm and sport institutions have created a default principle around masculinity as the operating concept behind sports which presumptuously identifies male activity as privileged, and reinforcing masculinity and masculine behavior as acceptable leadership qualities required in sport. ‘Hegemonic masculinity’ is an operating principle within sport organizations that restricts women’s access to leadership positions within sport. It is not new that women are underrepresented in sports governance because men control the athletic director positions at the highest level of intercollegiate sport and have higher rates of organizational success thus leading to even a more lopsided financial ratio of funding in women sports.
Statistics show that Women hold only 33% of general manager positions within the Women’s National Basketball Association, and outside of the U.S., women are less likely to hold leadership positions in sports, including volunteer and professional level organizations, as pertaining to the international Olympic governing committee approximately 85% of those governing bodies are composed of all male leadership teams, and approximately 14% have male/female leadership teams, based on this data, one can see the leadership positions in sports organizations are skewed towards male leadership.
Another major effect that gender inequity as caused is the issue of verbal and nonverbal abuse on female athletes that has led to series of ineptitude, absence of self-worth because of how stigmatized they are due to their appearance and their capabilities; I should know because I’ve had my fair share of this experience, and it wasn’t so grand I must say.
HOW TO RESPOND TO GENDER EQUITY IN SPORTS
As a soccer athlete, I have been secluded and even looked at in ‘awe’ because a lady like me shouldn’t be playing a man’s game. They even go as far as linking my ‘manliness’ to me growing up with boys and behaving like them but that isn’t the case.
A major look at gender equity awareness in sports should be adhered to in various institutions so as to create a form of sensitization to both the male and female gender. In addition to policies that support the right to physical education, there is a need to ensure that policies and programs on school-based physical education fully incorporate gender perspectives. For example, in addition to promoting an increase in participation by girls and young women, traditional stereotypes and gender-based segregation in sport and physical education should be discouraged. Both boys and girls need to be encouraged to move beyond the traditional classification of different types of sports as male (such as rugby) or female (such as netball), and to pursue a diverse range of physical activity. To achieve this, policies and programs should be established to raise awareness among students, parents and staff; the number of women physical education teachers should be increased; gender-sensitive training. Stereotypical attitudes towards the value of women’s sport also fuel inequality in wages, prizes and other financial incentives and recent and past research has shown that having a more balanced male and female board in sports governance contributes to a better work environment. Also, it is very important to give women equal opportunity in sport governance because gender diverse sport organizations are found to be more successful than those that are all male. Further, in order for women to have true equality in sport, the media will need to begin to recognize women for their athletic ability and not their looks or personal life alone, but also, society will need to move away from the social conditioning of women into gender stereotyped roles and allow for young girls to choose their own path, especially if that includes a keen liking to sports. Men must begin to see women as equals before women can truly be equals.
Created by Esther Iyamah