Underrepresentation of Women in Sports Media

Sports have played such an important role in who I am today, especially softball. My earliest memory is playing waffle ball at five years old with my dad in our driveway. My parents are big sports fans so the television in my house always has sports on. I grew up idolizing the New York Yankees. I have been to more games than I can count and have been fortunate enough to see so many Yankee greats play live. I am mesmerized not only by their talent, but by the class of the organization.



Author poses with Meredith Marakovits
Alexandra Botto and Meredith Marakovits

During the pre and post-game shows, I always admire how eloquently the players speak. More importantly, I developed an appreciation for the reporters who conduct the interviews, especially Meredith Marakovits, the clubhouse reporter for the New York Yankees on YES Network. Since I was in middle school, she has been my inspiration for pursuing a career in Sports Broadcast Journalism. When I was in high school, I had the honor of meeting Marakovits twice at Yankee games. I told her that she was the reason I wanted to be a reporter someday. She told me, “You should go for it, we need more women in this industry.”


That moment solidified the career path I knew I wanted to follow. What I didn’t know was how difficult the journey would be to get there due to the underrepresentation of women in sports media.

When you’re in college, everyone asks, what are you studying and what do you plan to do with your degree after graduation? Those may be tough questions for students who don’t have an idea of what they want to do in life. I never struggled with those questions because I have always known. What I struggle with are the responses I get when I tell people, including my family and friends, what I am studying and what career I want to pursue. I get looks of confusion or replies like “that’s a competitive industry, especially for a woman.” Or “that’s not really a nice job for a woman, what about nursing?” Or “are you sure that’s what you want to do?” The ignorance doesn’t offend me but rather motivates me to prove to everyone that success is not impossible for a woman entering a male dominated field. I might have to work a little bit harder, but I refuse to let the fear of striking out keep me from playing the game.



Alexandra Botto playing softball
Botto playing softball

Women are underrepresented in all aspects of sports media from athletes to broadcasters. “Media tends to represent women athletes as women first and athletes second” (Gender Equality, 2019). During women’s sports coverage, there is less reference about athletic ability and more about age, appearance, or family. Unlike women, men’s coverage always praises their strength and athleticism while focusing more on who they are as players.


“Women make up 40% of the participants in professional sports” (The evolution, 2020).

However, “a study done in 2019 found that coverage of women athletes on televised news and highlight shows totaled only 5.4% of all airtimes, from the 5% observed in 1989” (Service, P. N., n.d). It is disappointing to see that in 30 years, especially with the percentage of women participation, not much progress has been made in terms of coverage for women’s sports.


When it comes to sports broadcasting, the field has become more opportunistic for women, but there is still an uneven ratio of men to women. In an article by Paola Boivin, a professor at Arizona State University, she says “only 10% of sports editors and 11.5% of sports reporters are women.” She emphasizes that “it is time to get ahead of, call out, and dismantle environments of harassment and prejudice to keep women sports journalists in the profession” (Friday, P. B., 2021). Aside from striving to achieve my dream of being a Major League Baseball clubhouse reporter, I want to contribute to the change for women in the sports media industry. I want to help eliminate the discriminatory workplace atmosphere and encourage women to pursue their aspirations regardless of the statistics. Nothing should stop us from following our dreams and wanting to make a difference for those who will come after us.


The evolution of Women's Sports. Ohio University. (2020, January 28). Retrieved November 27.


Friday, P. B. |. (2021, March 12). 43 years after Melissa Ludtke, female sports journalists face the same treatment. Global Sport Matters. Retrieved November 27, 2021.


Gender Equality in Sports Media. UNESCO. (2019, July 24). Retrieved November 27, 2021.


Overlooking her shot: Women's sports need an assist as coverage remains the

same as 30 years ago. Purdue University News. Retrieved November 27, 2021.



 

Alexandra Botto is a junior at Sacred Heart University from Bergen County, New Jersey. She is studying Communications with a concentration in Sports Media and has a double minor in Political Science and Journalism. She plans on pursuing a master’s degree after graduation with aspirations of being a sports broadcast journalist or political commentator. Outside of the classroom, she is a Student Ambassador on campus, who gives tours of campus to perspective students, and plays Club Softball. She is a die-hard fan of the New York Yankees and Giants. Aside from her love for sports, she loves good food, her family, friends, and her standard poodle puppy, Demi!

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