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Sam and I will illustrate the complexity of Women’s experience in Sports. In the female and male society, there are specific gender roles and stereotypes that have been established. The typical males are expected to be strong, athletic and independent whereas females are expected to be obedient, attractive nurtures and quiet. Our society demands order to the implemented gender. When these gender norms are violated, it’s common for labels to be given such as ‘’Are you sure that’s not a boy in the net’’, ‘’A girl playing football – what a butch’’ etc. Whilst the ‘’traditional’ gender stereotypes have stayed fairly consistent over the last few centuries, it has also been challenged and confronted by many women and feminists. The one area in which these stereotypes take place is Sports and Physical Activates. Comparing outdated female gender stereotypes with those are 21st century of women in sports, female athletes are establishing their selves in the sporting world. However in saying that it is true those traditional female stereotypes continue to prevail.


Women had limited opportunities to participate in sport or any physical activities until federal legislation came into action allowing women to participate and given equal rights the same as men. Prior to 1870 women engaged in only recreational activities, as they were non-competitive and no rules were required. In the 1900s women started to participate in competitive sports while attempting to limit their involvement continued.

Feminist Theory
Acknowledging and contributions of feminist theories lead individuals to overlook the importance and sometimes-obvious aspects of sports. The feminist theory explains that women have been looked down at and burdened in many societies, and highlights that gender justice are a requirement for social development and progress. Critical feminists focus on issues of power and look to explain the origin and significances of gender relations, especially those that privileged men have over women. Critical feminist research show that sports are gendered activities meaning the purpose and organisations are based in the value and experiences of men celebrating attributes linked with dominant forms of masculinity in society. Therefore, the world of sport, an individual athlete is looked and defined ‘’qualified’’ whether they are a coach, administrator, if he or she is tough, aggressive and emotionally focused on competitive success. However, if the individual is caring, kind, supportive and emotionally responsive to others, he or she is capable of being a cheerleader, volunteer worker or any of the non-physical activities. These qualities are often not related with femininity and limitations are not valued in sport organisations.

Gender Roles

These days women are beginning to engage in more contact sports such as AFL, rugby and soccer previously been dominated by males this leads to discrimination, stereo typing and being perceived as more masculine than feminine. Society expects women and young adolescents to participate in sports that don`t involve bodily contact such as tennis and netball where they can be part of a sport and still look feminine by wearing tank tops and skirts.

Important memories in sporting world:

Sydney 2000 Olympic Games celebrated a memorable 100 years of women’s participation in the Olympic Games having one of our former and greater elite athlete Cathy Freeman winning gold in the 400m track and field event. Taekwondo was another addition to the programme with Australian, Lauren Burns winning gold under women’s 49kg. Other memorable attributes to the Olympics’ were Australian Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst for beach volleyball, Jenny Armstrong and Belinda Stowell for sailing in the women’s 470 class along with Australian women hockey, softball and water polo teams showing excellence in winning gold.

In the last year, Matildas have broken a new ground with the success over Brazil in the Women’s World Cup round 16, putting the team the first Australian football team to have won a knockout match in a World Cup tournament. Men’s football has much greater complexity of the sports development, than the women. Teams ranked 40’s and 50’s can on occasion beat teams in the top 10, which is difficult to imagine in a women’s game.

Michelle Payne along with Prince of Penzance helped etched Michelle’s name into the record books forever, which has directed the six-year-old son of Pentire to victory in the 2015 Emirates Melbourne Cup becoming the first female rider.

Media coverage
Media coverage has improved significantly over the last ten years with television networks such as fox sports and ABC showing more of professional women`s sport such as Women`s AFL, the W league which is the equivalent to the A league, tennis and the ANZ championship. However it is evident that it still doesn’t get as much attention from the media compared to male sport contributing factors are limited broadcasting, a lot less spectators at games, low quality coverage not many female reporters or commentators. Media coverage is important for women`s sports because it is an opportunity for the general public to acknowledge their talents, competitiveness and leadership as an athlete.

Positive and Negative Impacts
It is important that young female athletes participate in sport or any physical activity to lead a healthy lifestyle, however not everyone is left with positivity from their experiences.

Positive Impacts
Some of the positive impacts include improving health and fitness, self-confidence and body image. Women`s role in sport has shown to decrease diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis. they are more less likely to be depressed and achieve more academically.

Negative impacts
The negative impacts of sport include injuries, loss of flexibility, coordination and balance, stress, anxiety, depression, anti social behaviour, bullying and racism. Coaches can leave a negative impact on athletes by using the wrong approach to coaching, poor teaching skills, insulting and yelling at his players and putting them under a lot of pressure to win which can cause the athlete to under perform due to feeling anxious or they quit.


Today women participate in many sports at a professional and recreational level; many female athletes have achieved excellence through their hard work, dedication and discipline. People have become more accepting of women playing sport at the turn of the new millennium. Everyone should accept and support women's rights to play sport because it is a basic human right and is an opportunity to build strong and independent women.


Bell, R C, (2007). A history of women in sport prior to title IX, The sport journal, vol 10(2).

Engel, A, (1994). sex roles and gender stereotyping young women`s sport, feminism & psychology, vol 4 (3), 439-448.

Kendall, H, (2015), women`s sports see less media coverage, uwire text, p.1

Merkel, D, (2013). positive and negative impact on young athletes, journal of sports medicine,4, 151-160

Sydney Olympic Games, 2000 | (2016)
Wood, R. (2016). Women and Sport. Social Issues In Sport, 1(3), 309-335.
Cathy Freeman Wins 400m Gold - Sydney 2000 Olympics. (2016). YouTube.
Michelle Payne – Jockey Profile RACING.COM (2016)
Lynch, M. (2015). Celebrate Matilda’s for what they have achieved, not against the Socceroos. The Sydney Morning Herald.

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