1. ITV Report

Sexism 'preventing women and girls taking part in sport'

Jessica Ennis-Hill, Olympic champion. Photo: Press Association

Sexist and derogatory remarks made on the pitch, on TV and through the media are putting girls and women off participating in sport, which having a serious detrimental impact on health and well-being, a report by MPs warned.

Other factors keeping girls and woman away from sports are boring PE lessons at school, and sexist comments or a lack of respect directed at women coaches by players, MPs found.

The cross party report by the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee found that in all ethnic communities, age groups, and classes, women and girls are less likely to participate in sport, and those that did participate are more likely to give it up at an early age than men as responsibilities reduce leisure time.

More needs to be done to nurture female sporting talent in schools, and basic facilities such as as pitches, swimming pools and sports halls should be seen a public health spend by councils instead of a leisure facility. Some of the recommendations included:

  • Making a wider range of sports and fitness activities available at schools
  • Better training for PE teachers
  • A more equitable distribution of funding between boys' and girls' sport
  • Better facilities - particularly changing facilities

The MPs had several recommendations relating to improving the experience of women in sport, and how this experience was represented, and at times distorted by the media.

The Committee urged national newspapers to publish the results of women’s matches alongside the men’s, and called on journalists and commentators to refrain from making gratuitous derogatory remarks about the sportswomen.

– Women and Sport, Culture Media and Sport Committee

It said more needed to be done to help increase understanding of women's needs in sports and said this should be rectified with women in positions of leadership within sport.

It criticised the FA in particular for having made "little progress" in encouraging women into leadership positions since the last report in 2006. Committee chairman John Whittingdale said:

Sport still has too male an image, and it will require efforts from sport governing bodies, the media, schools and government departments and agencies to encourage us all to view sporting activity as a normal activity for women, which should be encouraged and facilitated.

– John Whittingdale