In February, the third annual Status of Women in the U.S. Media report came out which showed women being vast underrepresented in media making up around 40.3% (only 36.3% for 2013 in newsrooms) of the workforce being women. When they tallied up how many women were staffed at both television and print journalism organizations who were hired as sports journalist, the number falls drastically to a mere 14.6% (Women’s Media Center).
These numbers are troubling, because although they are most likely more than there were 20 years ago, the percentage is lower than 15%. And even so if it is growing, instead of counting women sports journalist by craft, they are measured in the “sexiness,” or “hotness,” which I as a women, only know how annoying it is when I’m doing better than my male counterparts and am only getting credit because of my looks or body shape. This begs me to ask the question, why are there so few women in sports journalism? It can’t be that all these women don’t like sports, look at Robin Roberts, Erin Andrews and Pam Oliver who are all flourishing in as women in sportscasting. But unfortunately, these women are still the exception rather than the norm. I believe that although it’s improving, discrimination is still present within the sports journalism culture against women. I believe that discrimination comes in forms of discouragement, only being allowed to cover women sports and double standards. I believe that the discrimination is both put into place by not only the actual newsroom, but also the audience. I believe it’s hard for men and even some women to accept a woman as someone who is knowledgeable and correct about a lifestyle that was once only ruled by men.
Females covering sports is no new occurrence, as it has been happening since the 1920’s (Miloch, 220). The first pioneers in female sports broadcast were Jane Chastain, Donna De Varona and Jeannie Morris but there were still many reporters who never gained such popularity. Although the number fluxuated, more and more women began to write about sports whether it is for their beat or newscast, even though they were denied access to locker rooms, dug outs, press boxes over and over again. This all changed in 1978 when a federal court judge ordered equal access for female reporters after filling a lawsuit against Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhan when he prevented a female reporter form interviewing players in the 1977 World Series (Ricchiardi). Even after major break in rights for women, they still faced incredible prejudice and ill treatment from everybody including coaches, players, girlfriends and fans. American Journalism Review senior contributing writer Sherry Ricchiardi described some of the worst treatment in her article “Offensive Interference:”
“Lisa Olson's September 17, 1990 … working for the Boston Herald, described being accosted by naked football players who made vulgar comments and lewd gestures as she...