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Gender Bias in Sports

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Gender Bias in Sports
Athletics is one field where non-traditional roles are both applauded and derided by society. The lines that separate the sexes in sport have been historically rooted in society's way of thinking, and though these lines have lately begun to fade, they are still embedded in the attitudes of the majority of the public. Women and men alike have been and still are seated in their respective sports without much room or access to cross that gender line. These limitations take various forms, such as the availability of opportunities that are given to those that wish to enter certain sports to the media portrayals of athletes crossing these gender boundaries. Female body-builders and male ice-skaters push the boundaries of what is socially acceptable in our society, and while there are many rewards for such activity, there are also many costs, both to society and to the individual.

There are many cultural and personal costs to engaging in non-traditional sport. Women and men face personal humiliation and the derision of friends, family, and society. They can be denied advancement in the work force, be ostracized by society, and suffer a multitude of slights and slurs.

Women who body build or play rough sports like rugby or hockey are often looked at as butch and thus characterized as lesbians.
Similarly, men who ice skate or are cheerleaders are considered feminine or gay. In a sociological study in 2003, male ballet dancers reported stereotypes they had been confronted with including: "feminine, homosexual, wimp, spoiled, gay, dainty, fragile, weak, fluffy, woosy, prissy, artsy and sissy". On the same note, the strengths of men in these non-traditionally male sports are often doubted; it is speculated that the male might be weak and cannot handle "manlier" sports even though these sports often require great amounts of strength, balance, and agility. Even women who enter male dominated sports are considered to be too weak to play. These...