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When will women in sport get equal media coverage?

When will women in sport get equal media coverage?

A diverse crowd joined ABC Grandstand’s Karen Tighe at Subiaco Football Club on Wednesday, July 11 for a compelling discussion about the state of coverage of women’s sport.

Representatives from sporting bodies, journalists and sports enthusiasts; both men and women were among the 80 people in the audience.

Rounding out the panel were CEO of the Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) and former Australian cricketer Christina Matthews; Australian and West Coast Fever netballer Nat Medhurst; and Seven West Media’s Steve Butler.

The panel began by noting the growing acceptance of women in sports broadcasting mentioning notable female reporters such as Alison Mitchell, Mel James and Kelly Underwood.

Christina Matthews commented that less gender stereotyping, and a greater number of media channels, has created more opportunity for coverage of women in sports media.

“This era of players who are now playing have an exciting future if they are wanting to enter sports media” said Christina.

However, more female sports reporters and the success of women’s team such as the Perth Scorchers, West Coast Fever and Matildas has not led to women getting more equal coverage in sports media.

Even with new professional women’s leagues such as the AFLW and WBBL, women’s sport is still often regarded as a novelty rather than a main attraction.

Nat Medhurst suggested the lack of public support for women’s sport was one of the reasons.

“There’s only 10 percent shown of the 1.2 million registered netballers that are actually tuning in and watching our sport and that’s pretty shocking,” she said.

“The public need to realise the role that they play in helping female sport get to the position that men are in.”

Butler, expressed disappointment that female athletes do not always get recognition in the media on their athletic talent alone.

“It still seems women’s sport needs the remarkable to happen to get the extra coverage.”

World class soccer player, Sam Kerr, was among the examples he gave:

“She’s the sister of a West Coast Eagle and that’s why we all know her initially and that really takes away from the extraordinary talent she is,” said Butler.

Christina Matthews believes that real change will only come when decision makers get on board.

“At the end of the day changing anything comes down to the people who control the mediums,” she said.

Karen Tighe suggested that getting women more involved in sport is important in creating change.

“I think it’s the normalisation, isn’t it. The more that we’re just speaking and you can hear women speaking who are passionate and knowledgeable; and not there as a token,” she said.

Increasing exposure of female sporting role models and getting people more engaged with sport at a local level were highlighted by audience members as ways to improve the profile of women in sport.

The panel agreed that there have been many positive changes for women in sport over the past two decades but there was still a long way to go.

Kaycee Meads is a recent Marketing and Public Relations graduate from Curtin University who is currently working as a Marketing and Social Media Assistant in the healthcare sector.

Karen Tighe
Steve Butler
Christina Matthews
Nat Medhurst