Labour’s deputy leader is the latest politician to support Stylist’s Fair Game campaign. Here, she reveals why the shocking pay gap is proof sexism in sport must be stopped.
“This summer it was great to see Jessica Ennis and Victoria Pendleton win Olympic gold. Like all our terrific women athletes, they have natural talent and put in years of work. But what made this summer different was that women owned the spotlight. Their achievements were equal to the male athletes and the nation embraced all of Team GB.
This has led to an outcry for more coverage of women’s sport. The new director general of the BBC, George Entwistle, described it as “a real opportunity for the BBC” and one I wholeheartedly support. However, it’s not just down to media coverage – women in sport need investment too.
Women are second-class citizens when it comes to prize money. In cricket, the World Twenty20 tournament gives $1m (£618,000) to the winning male team and only $60,000 to the women. In football, the winning team in next year’s men’s FA Cup will get £1.8m – the women will get just £5,000. In tennis, a middle-ranking man will win around $450,000 (£280,000) a year in prize money – a third more than a middle-ranking woman.
And our women have far less of the sponsorship that is so important for the best training and facilities. Women in sport get only 0.5% of sports sponsorship funds. In cycling, Team Sky has invested massively in men’s elite cycling, but doesn’t sponsor a women’s team – no-one does. So our women cyclists race with foreign teams – like Lizzie Armitstead, who raced with a Dutch team.
One of the legacies of the Olympics must be putting our sportswomen on an equal footing with men. National Governing Bodies of Sport must give equal support to women and publish their spending so we can see for ourselves how much goes to who.We must never again have – as we did last year – an all-male shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Jessica Ennis was the “face” of the Olympics but that needs to be backed up with equal coverage, equal prize money, and equal sponsorship.”
Picture credit: Rex Features