Member Insights: It’s time to give women’s sport a level and equal playing field
March 9, 2023
In this Member Insights article Content Director of Cinch, David Granger hears from England cricketer’s Sarah Glenn and Emma Lamb about what needs to happen if sport is going to achieve equality.
If sport is going to embrace equality, it needs brand investment and a greater understanding of women’s experiences to inspire the next generation.
That’s according to England cricket international Sarah Glenn. Glenn and fellow international Emma Lamb were speaking at a panel discussion hosted by cinch, the online car sales site and chaired by Kate Miller, the ECB’s Chief Diversity and Communications Officer. cinch sponsor both women’s and men’s England cricket teams and the event was part of their International Women’s Day (IWD) series on March 8.
Glenn said: “We’ve come a long way so far, but the more women share their experiences across different sports, the more we can show what we go through and inspire more to want to be involved. One of the big shifts is social media, it allows us to show behind the scenes and the real stuff. Seeing more brands investing in this will help us share our story even further.”
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is embracing equity and – for sport in particular – that means celebrating women athletes and applauding when equality is achieved in pay, sponsorship and visibility.
Looking back at the last 12 months, arguably, progress has been made:
On court, tennis has led the way offering equal prize money for both women and men, and the US Open has had equal prize money since 1973
In India, the establishment of a women’s T20 cricket tournament demonstrated unprecedented investment with the intention of raising the sport’s profile and its female athletes
The UK government set up a panel to look at issues which affect women’s soccer at all levels
There was success was on the pitch, in the stands and homes of soccer fans during the 2022 Women’s Euros – more than 17.4 million people watched the final live and 87,000 spectators were at Wembley
In 2019, Formula W launched to have women compete in motorsport at a global level
This made 2022 a record-breaking year for Women’s Sport. International success positively affected domestic competition– with 75% of those who watched the Women’s Euros final have since seen a WSL fixture (according to BARB/Women’s Sports Trust)
In tennis, no female players feature in the 2022 Forbes list of wealthiest athletes. No women feature at all in that list. It’s all men.
The Indian women’s T20 tournament is half the size of the men’s equivalent.
Formula W failed to complete its 2022 season and there is financial uncertainty about its future, while a rival series has been established by Formula 1. The F1 Academy will be a ‘feeder’ series and only appear at one of the 2023 F1 rounds.
The UK panel features Lionesses head coach Hope Powell and (mentioned before her on the government website) former professional player turned commentator Ian Wright.
Parts of the situation are being addressed. The fact that cinch sponsors men’s and women’s cricket, the fact that for the two Premier League clubs they sponsor (Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace) they partner with the women’s team means partners are starting to give equal billing and visibility.
In the US, the women’s national soccer team won a $24 million payout and an assurance there would be equal remuneration for both teams in all national competitions. But that took six years to accomplish.
Their Canadian counterparts are entering the same fight in an attempt to gain equality, the north American fight for equity is far from over.
While women’s sport has seen progress in gaining equality, there is still work to be done before we are able to more widely applaud equality in pay, sponsorship or visibility. Ruling bodies, federations, clubs, teams and partners all have their role in ensuring all top athletes get what they play on level, equitable playing fields.
As Lamb said at the cinch session: “When I was younger, I didn’t think I could be a professional cricketer and now I’m speaking to young woman and girls after the game that want to be involved. It feels really special.”
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