The state of women’s sports and gender equality-related issues for female athletes
Finding good news about women’s sports is not difficult. Currently, it seems to be prevalent everywhere, especially with the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup. America has recently made some enormous progress. US Soccer made headlines this month for being the first organisation to provide female World Cup teams with equal prize money, while a record number of people saw the first female boxing event at Madison Square Garden in May last year.
Although there has been progress, our study indicates that there is still much work to be done towards female athletes. If everyone in the sports industry does their part, the value and gender equality for women in sports may triple by 2030. In order to achieve this, our research highlights several significant chances to seize and obstacles to overcome on the path to equality.
We can chart changes in the number of people who watch or follow women’s sports over time, thanks to our sports research. It’s a mixed bag in general. The UK has+10%, Australia has +7% and Brazil has +4%. All have had the biggest year-over-year growth among the markets we follow. Because of increased media spending, women’s sports even experienced record viewership levels in the UK in the first three months of 2022, with an almost two-fold increase in average viewing time. Also, there has been a minor increase in the number of women watching, and more people in the age range of 35 to 54 are joining in.
Although a number of groups are making progress, the overall number has been fairly stable since 2020. This will vary depending on the competition, but it all serves to highlight how much opportunity it is for the industry to expand. The story is not entirely told by the number of views. We can monitor viewpoint changes using our data, and there has been a noticeable shift in people’s opinions regarding women’s sports.
This is a tremendous victory for the business because more spectators now find the female sport to be entertaining to watch, and the number of fans who support female players or teams has increased even more.
A significant role in spreading the message is played by social media. Following an athlete doesn’t need you to be a sports enthusiast. Players are occasionally followed due to their beliefs, which gives admirers a chance to watch them in action, as we’ve seen with other celebrities who have turned into activists like Marcus Rashford.
Lack of media attention is frequently cited as the main deterrent to viewing women’s sports. Despite making up over 40% of players, female athletes get less than 10% of the overall publicity. Purdue University has already conducted research that has touched on the quality of coverage, stating that the production value of women’s matches is typically poorer.
This provides more background for the ongoing stigma attached to it. A large portion of this is contributed by men, who are twice as likely to believe that women’s tournaments are inferior to men’s (31% vs 15%). But, considering how poorly women’s sports reporting frequently conveys the ‘greatness’ of their accomplishments, this may speak more to the overall experience than to on-screen performance.
Another problem is the continued contrast between men’s and women’s sports. Reporting should be of equal quality but of a different kind, one that highlights women’s particular skill sets. Also, since women’s sports fans and men’s sports fans have different demographics, broadcasters shouldn’t try to pander to both in the same way.
In general, businesses need to come up with novel ways to introduce customers to women’s sports in order to expand their markets and better serve their current clientele. The premise that consumers will watch women’s sports if sponsors and broadcasters successfully place them in front of them is supported by the fact that the efforts made thus far have been well worth it.
We’re confident that many companies will embrace this significant opportunity, achieve record engagement rates, and make rapid progress in light of some upcoming major global events.