THE coverage of women’s sport “needs to catch up” – according to the former sports editor of Scotland on Sunday.
Despite the significant increase in the broadcasting of sports such as women’s football – with BBC Scotland now showing SWPL matches – Ginny Clark feels coverage is lagging behind developments in the women’s game.
The sports journalist said: “Scotland’s achievement of reaching the women’s World Cup in 2019 had the effect of almost doubling participation figures for female football players within a year.
“Media coverage needs to catch up. There is a whole new world of readers and viewers out there, and surely that has to mean potential business opportunities for those news organizations too.”
The number of spectators at women’s football is increasing too. Last November – which was during a break in the men’s top-flight – there were 8066 fans at Hibs v Hearts and 3328 at the Old Firm clash.
Advocates of women’s sport say this shows arguments that audiences aren’t interested are outdated and misogynistic.
More women are also now involved in TV reporting, commentary and punditry, in both men’s and women’s football – seven in 10 people now feel there is more representation of female sports presenters and pundits today than previously, according to UK Sport.
The former sports editor said: “Representation is crucial in terms of helping to drive change across all media, whether in print, online or on-screen.
“We need more women sports journalists, but we also need more girls and young women to become involved with sports, as participants as well as spectators, and to see what opportunities can open up for them.”
The gender pay gap in sports has also come under fire as the women’s game in various sports reaches the elite level.
For example, in a sport such as rugby – which does not have the same commercial appeal as football – the average salary for a male rugby union player in the English Premiership is around £150,000 per year.
In comparison, clubs in the women’s equivalent of the English Premiership are subject to a pay cap for the entire squad of £190,000 – which has to be split between around 50 players.
READ MORE: Gender pay gap narrower in Scotland than rest of UK, new data reveals
However, while there is a long way to go, Clark says there’s hope that the gap could narrow.
She said: “In many professional sports, disparities in wages and in sponsorship are being chipped away, with a number of women’s football teams recently involved in protests and even strikes in the pursuit of parity and improved conditions.”