The Women’s Media Center released an annual report in 2015 that showed little progress has been in the number of women holding major news and entertainment broadcasting positions. The area of sports journalism, has seen the biggest drop in female representation, falling seventeen percent over the last year (Schwartz). Two high-profile roles previously held by women — Diane Sawyer of ABC News and Jill Abramson of The New York Times—were changed in 2014” (Alter par. 2). Both were replaced with men. Women are on camera represent less than fifty percent of the evening news broadcast with the same percentage writing news stories (Alter).
Several women have been fired from high profile broadcast jobs because of age, including Vicky Gutierrez at Telemundo and Christine Craft, the first female broadcaster who filed a lawsuit in 1986 after being demoted for being told she was too old and unattractive to men (Alter).
The women who were pioneers in sports casing found that the male television crew were not ready to accept a female sportscaster. They made crude remarks and even some of the athletes made it difficult for a woman to be in the locker room just doing their job. In the early 70s, Jeannie Morris easily got into the field, but was not permitted to work in the press box with the male broadcasters and had to sit outside in a blizzard (Acuna.)
The first round of women hired in sports broadcasting were former beauty contestant winners with executives thinking more about their appeal to male audiences rather than their interviewing skills. Today, if you Google “women sports broadcasters,” several of the top results are the “hottest women in sports broadcasting.” Erin Andrews, a major name in the field, is known less for her interviewing skills than for a lawsuit against a man who videotaped her in a hotel room. Sarah Spain, who reports for ESPN, wears short and low cut dresses on the air, as does Heidi Watney and Jill Arrington. They also pose for provocative photo shoots that have nothing to do with sports. It’s obvious that some of these women, while being efficient in and knowledgeable about sports, are hired for their youth and looks.
The question is, do these women draw other women to the sport or are they there for the male viewers? The answer is most likely no. While women flock to watch the Olympics, that audience drops dramatically when it comes to football, baseball and other major league televised sports (Park). This indicates that women are less likely to watch televised sports despite a female or male anchor or reporter.
There are several large organizations that support the advancement of women in the media: the Association for Women in Sports Media and The International Association of Women in in Radio and Television. Also, encouraging more women to major in sports journalism in college would help to advance the field, particularly in diversifying it so they don’t all have blonde hair and athletic bodies. However, there are some things that cannot be changed. The male culture of watching televised sports will remain the same and networks care more about ratings and advertising revenue than they do about diversity in their female sports broadcasters.
- Acuna, Kirsten. “AGE DISCRIMINATION ON TV: 10 Anchors Who Were Replaced By Younger Women.” Business Insider. 8 Aug. 2012. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.
- Alter, Charlotte. “8 Sad Truths about Women in the Media.” TIME. 5 June 2015. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.
- Park, Alice. “Why Women Watch the Olympics (but Tune Out Other Sports).” TIME. 12 July 2012. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.
- Schwartz, Lou. “Women in Sportscasting: A Brief History.” American Sportscaster Online. n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2016