By: Remy Raccuia
I joined my first zoom class of my last semester of college with bittersweet feelings. While I didn’t know what to expect from the class, I surely wasn’t expecting to be the only female on the screen. I’m a sports business minor and I’m used to being outnumbered, but never singled out.
Sports have always been a part of my life. I started playing basketball at five years old and spent many afternoons and nights in gyms, practicing or playing myself, or attending my older brother’s basketball games. After breaking my wrist in the state championship my senior year of high school, my sports career as an athlete came crashing down with a bang. While I never planned on being a student athlete in college, I knew there would be a void without a team to be a part of.
I enrolled in a sports journalism class during my sophomore year at USC and my outlook was forever changed. I’d been the athlete. I was the fan. Now, I wanted to be the executive. I enrolled in a sports business & management minor and figured this was the perfect opportunity to prepare for a career within sports. After semesters of classes, maymesters, networking, and internships I came to realize that the sports industry is about as exclusive as it gets.
While the U.S. sent more women to the 2016 Olympics than men, female athletes and female employees within this exclusive industry are not given the same respect or recognition. For so long, the sports industry has been male-dominated. Women are not equally represented in the media, and they certainly don’t receive equal pay. These problems don’t just exist within the sports industry; however, sports is an industry that has the power to stimulate positive change. Sports are a form of global entertainment and carry heavy influence around the world, thereby having the opportunity to make a difference.
Here are some quick stats:
- While the majority of Olympic athletes are female, only 30% of the International Olympic Committee is made up of females (Statistics).
- Only 11% of the Olympic coaching staff was women in Rio (Statistics).
- A mere 3.2% of media coverage is dedicated to women’s sports (Cooky, Messner & Musto, 2015).
And even though my generation looks up to icons who have paved the way such as Serena Williams, the tennis legend and household name, and Kim Ng, the highest ranked female among the MLB, it’s hard not to feel singled out and lost at times within the world of sports. Just recently, I had a conversation that knocked me down and made me feel like I had to prove my worth within the sports industry. Women across the workplace face gender discrimination no matter where they go, but sports feels especially like a gentlemen’s club. As frustrating as the dynamic is, it is ultimately making females so much stronger and determined. Women do just as good of a job as men, while proving themselves more than men will ever need to.
The gender bias that exists within the professional sports world is enough to deter some women from even entering it. As I am months away from the professional world, I am frustrated that women are still earning less, still experiencing recruitment bias, and losing opportunities to less qualified men. I’m taking these frustrations and channeling them into genuine hard work, hoping that I, and so many others among my generation, will be part of the change – that we will finally see sports business and representation stand for women and greater gender equality.
Cooky, C., Messner, M., & Musto, M. (2015). It’s Dude Time!: A Quarter Century of Excluding Women’s Sports in Televised News and Highlight Shows. Communication and Sport, 3(3), 261–287. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167479515588761
“Statistics”. Olympic. Retrieved from https://www.olympic.org/women-in-sport/background/statistics