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Gender Comparison of Sporting Athletes

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1550 words Published: 15th Sep 2017

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Viraj Tamakuwala


Emily McCullogh

Awarding of unequal prize money to female athletes in sporting competitions compared to males

A majorly debated topic in the sporting world is the unequal compensation of female athletes. The first and most given reasoning for the unfair compensation of female athletes to males is that their performance isn’t at par with the males. That reasoning is often expanded to bring in the belief that sports are associated with masculinity and that men have been the ones to play sports since the old ages. Which leads to the debate of the athlete’s body remaining feminine while participating in sports and events. Another argument that the women sports don’t generate enough revenues and interests. This essay will expand and provide studies and articles that support the claims and then provide solutions now in place to remove or minimize the gap as well as criticisms of the claims.

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The difference in performance of women athletes is debatable but there are researches that suggest, that there is a gap. A study done by Thibault, et al.(2010) on the performance levels of athlete’s from 1983 till 2010 suggests that women present lower record values than men and that it is influenced by the sex of the individual. The study further states that women’s performances will remain inferior to men’s till the both reach their physiological maximums. In addition, the study goes to use formula’s to show and express the differences and the gap of the performances, it just concludes that its impossible for women to catch up to men as the gender gaps in sport performance has been stable and remain that way for the foreseeable future (Thibault, et al., 2010). Government of Ontario recognizes the sport performance gap, in it’s Game ON – The Governments sport plan which states that the sport participation of women drops dramatically by age and the closing of the gap is the top priority of the plan. It recognizes that the gap is not only due to interest and abilities but rather social, economic, and cultural barriers (Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, 2016). That statement would make the possibility that potential female athletes are unable to participate in sports at that level of competition and in response hides the females that would be able to close or shorten the gender performance gap. This relates directly to the points made by Dr. Hernan Humana, in Kine1000 lectures on February 6 and 8 , 2016 where he argued of that the performance, structure and culture of gender causes socialization which directly affects the point of view of the males towards the females and their roles in sports and society, and giving the example of the girls soccer team having a pink uniform.

The roles of females in sports and society is the main controlling factor for the unequal compensation. Women tend to be socially constructed to be weak or lazy as they don’t tend to engage in physical activity, but then the females who are athletes are stuck between two worlds, the sports world which requires a strong and healthy body and the social world which requires them to have femininity to be accepted in society (Krane, Choi, Baird, Aimar, & Kauer, 2004). The study on the topic states that they are living in a paradox of dual identity between the two world where the emphasis is keeping the hegemonic view of femininity while having the body or muscularity needed for the sport, many times this paradox is said to be causing an increased negative behaviours such as poor body image, eating disorders or stress and in some cases causing the athlete to quit the sport (Krane, Choi, Baird, Aimar, & Kauer, 2004). This is no only limited to the field or sporting grounds but to the homes and society that they live in, It is made extremely clear that these female athletes mostly when professional are treated differently and their success comes at the price of their image as the book talks about personal experiences of these females as some them are lesbians (Lenskyj, 2003). While this bring on the discrimination based on sexuality, which is also being fought against by the government as it is stated that athletes from sexual minorities are very unlikely to participate in sports (Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, 2016). Furthermore, to support the female athletes as well women engaged as coaches and officials, Sport Canada has put of policies and plans to work towards an Equitable and Quality sport environment (Sports Canada, 2015). They are doing this by providing training and opportunities to both coaches and athletes to perform and present themselves at higher competitions than available before, for example government funding is only provided to sport organizations which state their commitment to women in sports (Sports Canada, 2015).

The most logical argument for the unfair pay of female athletes is that they don’t provide enough revenue and interest as compared to men. The cause is media, as women athletes have not been covered I may sports or events, most of the time we wouldn’t even know that there was a female competitor for the competition or even a team for the sport as it would be covered in minimal amounts if any coverage at all (Messner, Duncan, & Cooky, 2003). The media coverage is having a gradual increase in the coverage while seeing an relative increased effort to increase audience and heavy promoting of men’s sports, furthermore the commentary is also male dominant to reinforce that sports with masculinity (Messner, Duncan, & Cooky, 2003). This relates back the guest lecture by Paul Jones where he answered that media shows us what we want to see as they will cover it while telling us what we should be interested in, and that it works both ways as it’s more of a cycle which is hard to break (October 24, 2016). It is found that men who watch sports are more to invested to it and engaged in it as it’s a way for them to unwind and become involved in the drama and excitement of the game or sport (Gantz & Wenner, 1991). Meanwhile the females are likely to be found watching sports due to companionship from their male friends, family or counterparts, in addition it was found that the more it was covered the more both men and women watched it more (Gantz & Wenner, 1991). That proves Paul Jones point which states that media covers what we want to see and the more they cover it the more people watch and that it’s a total cycle which works negatively for the female athletes. The solution for this is simple and it is that viewers should go to or start become interested in female sports and events, if there are viewers who are interested then media will cover it and then cycle shall start for the females and then revenue and interest both would increase.

In conclusion, the unequal compensation of female athletes in sporting competitions is a critical and important problem and that government and organizations fully support the advancement of women in the sports industry. The largest barrier is the media, which is also the best method to get them equal and fair pay either through creating larger interest through covering female sports and events which in return will to reward them in the future or follow the interest of the crowd which could be changing as even the smaller coverages of the female sports is creating interest and awareness that they exist. The government has a large role in this fight towards equity and equality it is showing effect slowly but effectively. The day when the compensation will equal as well as the gap between the genders declining as opportunity is given.


Gantz, W., & Wenner, L. A. (1991). Men, women, and sports: Audience experiences and effects. Journal of Brodcasting & Electronic Media, 35(2), 233-243. doi:10.1080/08838159109364120

Krane, V., Choi, P. Y., Baird, S. M., Aimar, C. M., & Kauer, K. J. (2004). Living the Paradox: Female Athletes Negotiate Femininity and Muscularity. Sex Roles, 50(5), 315-329. doi:10.1023/B:SERS.0000018888.48437.4f

Lenskyj, H. (2003). Out on the field : gender, sport and sexualities. Toronto, ON: Women’s Press.

Messner, M. A., Duncan, M. C., & Cooky, C. (2003). Silence, Sports Bras, And Wrestling Porn. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 27(1), 38-51. doi:10.1177/0193732502239583

Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. (2016). Game ON – The Ontario Government’s Sport Plan. Ottawa, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario.

Sports Canada. (2015). Actively Engaged: A Policy on Sport for Women and Girls. Retrieved from Government Of Canada: http://canada.pch.gc.ca/eng/1414511367652/1414602693839

Thibault, V., Guillaume, M., Berthelot, G., Helou, N. E., Schaal, K., Quinquis, L., . . . Toussaint, J.-F. (2010). Women and Men in Sport Performance: The Gender Gap has not Evolved since 1983. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 9(2), 214-223.


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