Many would say equality in sports has progressed since the Paris Olympics, nearly 125 years ago, when women were first allowed to compete.
Athletes such as Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky are mainstream celebrities with large followings and major brand deals.
Even though some women in sports are influential figures, they are at major disadvantage.
Fewer women are showcased in the media, leading to less representation for young girls who are searching for female athletes to look up to.
There are many reasons as to why there is less representation of women in athletics, but the societal expectation that girls are fragile continues to impact all women—even the most successful ones.
Treated as the weaker gender, female athletes continue to face constant invalidation at the hands of differing societal expectations for men and women.
The double standards for women are easy to notice, between the sexest stereotyping and the constant objectification of women in the media, but how does this affect young athletes?
In a survey, Baltimore City College students were asked what athlete they see most in the media. Only 6% of those surveyed picked a female athlete.
Representation of women in the media continues to be a problem. Young girls need role models who look like them to demonstrate that female athletes can climb to the top.
When asked if City treats male and female sports equally, a female volleyball player responded, “I just feel like City doesn’t pay attention to girls’ sports. It could just be me but I feel like I only hear about boys’ sports.”
Even male athletes at City seem to agree.
Every male athlete surveyed said that they believed City treats male and female differently.
“I mean it’s kind of obvious. I think every high school treats girls differently and City is the same,” said a male runner.
Even though male athletes are not experiencing the first-hand effects of sexism in sports, they can still recognize the difference of treatment between both genders of student athletes at City.
When you look at all different aspects of sports—both high school and professional—the obvious lack of media coverage of women’s sports has a detrimental impact on girls.
Less media coverage conveys the message that women do not deserve the same opportunities that men do.
So yes, there are famous female athletes, but even the most famous female athletes are continuously shown less respect than male athletes. This discrepancy will continue to impact generations of potential female athletes.