Friday, July 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Sexism still a problem for female sports journalists

A story today on TheDailyBeast.com dives into the issue of sexism in sports journalism, something that continues to be a problem in a culture dominated by machismo, ego, and ignorance.

Here are a few highlights from Isobel Markham's piece:

Almost every female game reporter has experienced sexism in the locker room, both at the hands of team members and fellow journalists. Follow any sports game or broadcast on Twitter that involves a female sports journalist and among the genuine commentary you’ll find a slew of inappropriate remarks, some approaching the obscene. “Doris Burke is a MAN” is just one of the choice remarks the ESPN sideline reporter and color analyst is subject to every time she goes on air.

But on the flip side:

Being attractive can cause almost as many problems for female sports journalists as being unattractive. The undeniably beautiful [Sarah] Spain had barely been reporting two weeks from the Blackhawks locker room in Chicago when a male veteran reporter on the same beat insinuated that she must have been sleeping with one of the players. Another mentioned to the PR department that he found her breasts “a distraction.”

But then things got a little confusing, as Jane McManus of ESPN seemed to have her own issue with the hiring of attractive reporters, as if a woman can't be attractive, intelligent, and knowledgeable at the same time:

This is where the sideline reporting jobs—the one spot in sports journalism increasingly reserved for women—come into the picture. “That role is either filled by actual journalists,” said espnW reporter Jane McManus, “or Miss Florida, who is, you know, an attractive young woman.”

Those networks who hire the ex-beauty pageant winners do little for the credibility of hard-working, serious journalists. “It’s definitely a job that kind of pits two different kinds of journalists against each other,” McManus said. “That does not happen with men in our industry.”

Still, Markham has a point. There aren't nearly enough female reporters, but there are also far more sports male sports fans than female sports fans, which could account for the disparity. Either way, she has a point:

Despite their presence on the sideline, women are still very much in the minority in sports journalism. The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport published a report last month on race and gender diversity within 150 newspapers and websites in 2012. The report found that 90.4 percent of sports editors were men; 88.3 percent of sports reporters were men. Of the 11 women who were sports editors, six of them worked for ESPN.

[Click here to read the full story]

Matt Mullin Philly.com
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