The Women’s Sport Trust and Sky Sports have teamed up to increase the visibility of women in sports.
For years, many people assumed that men were more naturally ‘sporty’ than women. That tired old stereotype has been challenged in recent times, thanks in no small part to the success of British women athletes – from stellar teams like England’s national football squad (aka the Lionesses) and the Commonwealth Games-winning national netball team to Olympians like Jessica Ennis-Hill, Nicola Adams and Eilidh Doyle.
It’s not just professional sportswomen whose profiles are on the rise. Increasing numbers of women all over the UK now take part in sports regularly: research published by the government last summer showed that 58% of women were active in sport compared to 63% of men.
Media coverage of women’s sports has also increased meaningfully in the last few years, although it remains much less visible than men’s. The women’s FA Cup final was broadcast live on BBC One for the first time earlier this year, while Sky Sports’ viewing figures for their coverage of the women’s Six Nations rugby have increased by 92%. Overall, last summer saw more women’s sports shown on UK TV than ever before.
Now, a new campaign aims to keep the momentum going by inspiring people of all genders to support women’s sports. The Women’s Sport Trust has partnered with Sky Sports to encourage people to watch, attend or play women’s sports, with the goal of filling stands, seeing viewing figures rise, and increase participation even more.
As part of the #ShowUp campaign, Sky is giving away 5,000 tickets to women’s sports events this year, to encourage attendance as part of the Sky VIP loyalty programme.
The campaign has the backing of several high-profile women in sports, including Tamsin Greenway, the head coach at Wasps Netball – an English team which competes in the Netball Superleague – and a Sky Netball pundit.
“We need to take the first steps to creating a change in culture that places women’s sport at the heart of people’s lives,” Greenaway says. “My own five-year-old lives in a world where women’s sport is cool and she loves it, but for her it’s the norm. She supports netball and my team like others support men’s football.
“That’s what #ShowUp is about: starting a shift in our culture by saying ‘go and watch your local team, follow them and support them’ and hopefully developing an environment in which people engage with women’s sport in a much deeper way.”
Ex-England cricket World Cup winner and Sky Cricket pundit Isa Guha agrees.
“From England winning the World Cup at Lord’s and breaking records on Sky, to our netball team taking home gold in Australia, women’s sport is in great shape and it is now about taking it that next step further,” she says. “[That means] filling the stands at games, getting families tuning in in front of the TV and women of all ages regularly playing… really showing up!”
The Women’s Sports Trust and Sky are asking supporters to pledge their enthusiasm for women’s sports by using the hashtag #ShowUp on social media to document their experiences of women in sport. Go on – get out there.
Stylist’s Visible Women campaign is dedicated to increasing the visibility of accomplished women, celebrating their success, and empowering future generations to follow their lead. See more from Visible Women here.
Images: Courtesy of Sky Sports and the Women’s Sports Trust / Getty Images