Gender Inequality in Sport

Exercise and Health

Sport as a Male Preserve

Sport is a gendered cultural form that has been dominated by men and masculinity. The effects of this domination upon broader patterns of social relations have been misrepresented in much of the literature on sport and gender, where sport is often conceptualized as a static fact, rather than as a dynamic social practice. Analysis of sport as social practice directs attention to the manner in which sport gives meaning to broader patterns of social relations. In the case of gender relations, sport as a male preserve has contributed to the oppression of women through the objectification and dornination of their physicality and sexuality.

Gender Equality

The positive outcomes of sport for gender equality and women’s empowerment are constrained by gender based discrimination in all areas and at all levels of sport and physical activity, fuelled by continuing stereotypes of women’s physical abilities and social roles. The value placed on women’s sport is often lower, resulting in inadequate resources and unequal wages and prizes. In the media, women’s sport is not only marginalized but also often presented in a different style that reflects and reinforces gender stereotypes. Violence against women, exploitation and harassment in sport are manifestations of the perceptions of men’s dominance, physical strength and power, which are traditionally portrayed in male sport.


Female participation is the possibility that every team attending the 2012 London Games included at least one female competitor for the first time ever. Women made their Olympic debut in 1900 at the Paris Summer Olympic Games at which only 21 female athletes competed.

Nationwide the percentage of women who play sport drops by 50% between sixth form and higher education, while there is virtually no change in the number of men playing sport regularly.

The stats are not down to a lack of demand: 68.4% of female students would like to play more sport, 80% feel they have been failed by shortcomings in funding and facilities.