As another sports season rolls around, so does a question regarding gender inequality: why is it that so many people can name famous male athletes in every sport, but struggle to name accomplished female players?
Despite sports’ popularity among all genders, the amount of attention women’s sports receives is still shockingly low. There is a huge gap in turnout between women’s and men’s sports games, in funds and salaries, and, at many high schools, in the enthusiasm the student body gives.
Many students have already taken notice. “It bothers me how no matter how good we play, the boys team will always have a bigger turnout,” Anna Weiler, a junior and Varsity basketball player at Rockville High School said. “I think it’s unfair how women’s sports are not taken as seriously.”
Some speculate that this disparity is fueled by the harmful stereotype that women are “weaker” than men. “I do think that women’s sports don’t receive as much attention as the boys, which is very unfortunate and can be discouraging to some players,” said Robert Stohlman, head coach of the girls varsity tennis team at Rockville High School.
At both the collegiate and professional level, gender inequity also exists in the form of payment. According to a statistic from the Women’s Sports Foundation, NCAA Division I-A head coaches for women’s teams receive an average salary of $850,400, while head coaches for men’s teams average $1,783,100. Even more shocking is that in 2013, the maximum amount a Women’s National Basketball Association player could make was $105,000, whereas in the National Basketball Association the highest earning was $30,453,805.
“I definitely think girls do not receive the same amount of attention boys do. A lot of the time certain boys’ sports get more funding than girls and the show out for girls sports games are smaller,” explained Rockville High School junior and varsity tennis player Sasha Jones.
Outside of turnout and enthusiasm, female athletes are not given the same attention on sports-related injuries. A recent article by the Washington Post pointed out that women athletes are more likely to receive concussions that men, while many studies to highlight only the effects of sports on the brain in males. This narrow focus prevents awareness, furthering the issue.
It seems like MCPS, however, has been taking measures for athlete safety for both genders. “Every sport has concussion testing,” explained Kevin Liu, a junior and co-educational volleyball player at Richard Montgomery High School.
Perhaps another culprit of the inequality between women’s and men’s sports is the media. It includes far less coverage on women’s sports, and when there is, female athletes are often sexualized to make a profit, a symptom of misogyny in the athletic world.
With gender inequality present from high school sports onto professional levels, many students agree that one of the first steps in addressing the problem is talking about it.
Opinions piece by the MoCo Student staff writer Lilian Andemicael of Rockville High School
Image by MoCo Student staff artist Eva Shen