Women’s treatment in sport has always been a manifestation of wider gender inequality and, as sports evolved and became and professional financially, women in sport prolonged with the change. However, the huge funding disparity between male and female sport means that women have had fewer opportunities to play sport, have suffered from inadequate coaching and facilities compared with those enjoyed by men. Even when women raise more money than men, they can also be paid less. In the US, five female football players recently filed a complaint against US Soccer over wage discrimination. They are ranked number one in the world, 30 places above the men, and generated hefty revenues – but are still paid significantly less. Serena Williams, the women’s number one tennis player – when she last played and won three of the four grand slams, it was noted that the less prestigious men’s tournaments paid far more than the women’s grand slam occasions.
The Victorian society viewed sport as “inseparable from the philosophy of muscular Christianity, which defined itself against femininity and ‘softness’,” In 1998 the Marylebone Cricket Club (1787), the custodians at Lord’s, lifted its ban in 1998 on female members. In June 2016, the Muirfield Golf Club, one of Scotland’s most celebrated courses voted to uphold its ban on women members. However, it was finally successfully upturned in March 2017. Others institutions continue to resist.
Rio 2016 represented a significant presentation which was the rise of women in sport. There was 47.7 percentage of women competing as athletes, a record for a summer Games. Yet the true pay equality in sport is still far away.
As Tony Collins, author of Sport in Capitalist Society (2013) said “until there is a fundamental shift towards gender equality across society women in sport will always be under-paid.” As well as being preserved in history as second-class.