It’s time to talk about the elephant in the newsroom. Specifically, the ESPN or the Sports Illustrated newsrooms, or any newsroom where men dominate – which is basically every newsroom, but sports media in particular tends to fall victim to a lack of diversity.
The Women’s Media Center conducted research and found that females make up 36% of all journalists and just 10% of sports journalists. The few women in sports media also have to endure more abuse than their male counterparts. Sarah Spain wrote a column about the exceptionally vulgar harassment she receives daily from strangers on Twitter. Spain writes, “While the experience isn’t unique to women in the sports industry, the extent of the abuse and type of abuse seem to be different. Anger usually isn’t a result of the opinions you’re giving or the words you’re saying, as it usually is with male reporters. Instead, insults are personal, often about a woman’s weight or appearance, her sexual history or femininity. Threats mirror the violence perpetrated against women in real life, inspired by misogyny and deep-seated anger rather than a mere frustration with a sports take.”
In a video produced by Just Not Sports, men sat down across from Spain and Julie DiCaro and read profane tweets that both women had actually received on Twitter. The men in the video had not read the tweets before filming and many of them found it difficult to read the 140-character hate-filled phrases out loud; in some cases, the men actually refused to read them. The most surprising part was that none of the tweets bothered to criticize Spain’s or DiCaro’s work. Whereas male journalists receive criticism on their opinions or writings related to their job, females receive nasty, sexist abuse based solely on misogynistic stereotypes that are somehow still vastly rampant in 2016.
On a related topic, women’s sports also don’t get near as much coverage as men’s sports – ESPN spent only 2% of its time on women’s sports in 2014. One reason for this is the idea that men’s sports have a higher quality of play, but even that’s debatable, because if ESPN thinks women’s sports are “low quality,” then clearly they haven’t watched Serena Williams own the court or watched Carli Lloyd dominate the pitch. And don’t get me started on Katie Ledecky, Simone Biles, or the Olympics in general. American women brought home more medals from Rio than American men, but this year’s Olympic games were still full of sexist moments.
I know the sports industry has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go, too. Male journalists do a fantastic job covering sports from all corners of the globe, but so can female journalists, if you’d give more of us a chance. So, where my girls at?