Introducing ‘Out of Your League’

Hello Big Brains, and welcome to Out of Your League!

The Hot Chicks with Big Brains team are incredibly excited to share this series with you and they’ve given me, Lauren Muggleton, the opportunity to write about women in sport.

Lauren Muggleton

This is a fresh space for interviews and written pieces about various sportswomen with a strong focus on the benefits of sport involvement. It’ll also touch on challenges to equal participation and the ways we can address these issues. We hope you’ll engage with this series and join our passionate team in exposing and overcoming the problems confronted by women in sport.

Daisy Pearce (Image by Michael Dodge)

The objectification of female athletes today demonstrates little change from the historical perspective of women as ‘lesser than’ men; women are frequently segregated from different types of sports events and competitions.

Too often, the athletic contributions of female athletes are undervalued, and ‘sexploitation’ coupled with the fear of appearing ‘too masculine’ can detract young women from entering the sports scene.

The limited value placed on women in sport leads to inadequate resources, unequal wages, and a marginalised media representation that both reflects and reinforces gender stereotypes.

While there are clear markings of division and discrimination in the sport industry, we have seen major accomplishments by sportswomen that signify important advances for gender equality and the empowerment of females. Among these women are Martina Navratilova, USA player with the best winning record in tennis history; Betty Cuthbert, the only Olympian to have won a gold medal in all sprint events; and Sally Pearson, world 100m hurdles champion.

Given that sport was traditionally seen as a male domain, the participation of women and girls—and the evident success of many female athletes—challenges the traditional foundations of social order and gender stereotypes.

Serena Williams (Image by Annie Leibovitz)

The health benefits of physical activity and sport are well established, and the inequality of the sport industry can prevent women from receiving these benefits. For girls, sport positively impacts childhood health, as well as reducing the risk of chronic diseases later in life. For older women, physical activity can contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases which account for one third of deaths among women around the world.

Sport also promotes psychological well being, particularly for females with disabilities or from culturally diverse backgrounds. It does so by  building confidence, encouraging social integration, and providing affirmations of self-empowerment.

This also helps reduce anxiety and depression, which is particularly important considering the rate of depression among women is almost double that of men.

Tyler Wright (Image by Gaizka Iroz)

We have seen significant contributions from the sport industry to challenge gender discrimination. For example, the pay rise in Australian women’s cricket and the new nationwide initiative, Female Football Week. While these demonstrate movements towards developing an enabling environment for women in sport, we still have a long way to go. Improving women’s capabilities through education and health, increasing their access to opportunities and resources such as employment and economic assets, and enhancing their leadership roles are all contributing elements to a healthier, more equal sport environment.

The role of both men and women in creating this change is critical. We must continue our progression towards an integrated sport environment where we dispel misconceptions about women’s capabilities, and where female athletes have a full and equal opportunity to excel.


Words by Lauren Muggleton

Images as individually credited

Compiled and Edited by Emma Kate Lewis

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