Why are women so undervalued in sport? Redbrick legends Charlotte Lytton and Anna Hughes explore the reasons behind the polarity in the media's coverage of men's and women's sport.
You'd be forgiven for not realizing that the British netball team is currently ranked third in the world. In fact, after finishing first in the 2011 World Netball Series, all of the team has remained in full time employment due to the pitifully low exposure, and thus money, that they receive. While premiership footballers are raking in six figure sums each week, world-class netballers are struggling to juggle the 9-5 and train at an international level.
Take Lindsay Keable, for example. The twenty three year old netballer was selected for the England team but could not take up the position as a result of her work commitments. Being a teacher may not be most people's idea of a lucrative career, but there is so little money in netball that giving up the day job just isn't an option. The situation turns bleaker still when comparing the salaries of male and female footballers. In England, there is not a single stadium owned by a female club, and the sport is rarely aired in primetime slots on the big networks. During the 2007 Women's World Cup, female footballers were paid just £40 per day, a meagre amount compared to the £23,975 raked in daily by Camerounian player Samuel Eto'o.
So why is no one putting money into women's sports? If networks are unwilling to broadcast their games in the first place, how are they expected to drum up interest and quash age-old gender inequalities? We shouldn't automatically assume that people don't care about women's sport; it is simply that they don't have access to it like they do the endless channels devoted to the male equivalent. When did you last switch to a terrestrial channel and find a game of women's football? The endless pre-match, match, and post-match programmes dedicated to male sports are a stark reminder of the fact that Britain simply does not want to invest in its female players. Its lack of airtime heavily contributes to the fact people just do not take women's sport seriously, and this attitude needs to change – fast. Mixed gender teams may be a long way off, but there's no reason equality in sport shouldn't be.