The unwinned battle for equality in women’s sport

Mwomen and sport. A slippery slope for gender equality, still dominated by discrimination and stereotypes. Assessing the situation between progress and existing barriers in France.

Will women ever win the race for equality in sport?

The complaint of the former international ice hockey referee Charlotte Girard-Fabre is blunt: “From my first game I heard horrible things like dirty whore, you have nothing to do here, hockey is a men’s sport, go back to the kitchen! __I was nine years old, I wanted to start playing ice hockey at my club and they immediately told me that girls and boys could not be on the rink at the same time.

Sexism in sport can range from subtle psychological pressure to physical violence. Those who dare to speak risk isolation. It cost Charlotte her job as an international ice hockey referee. Today she works as a national handball referee. She trains daily with her husband and fellow referee Savice.

“The more I improved my record, the more difficult it was to face it. During training, they could throw a ball violently at me to hit my head or they could push me into a difficult position. It all crystallized once more in my gender. And It has gone, from the kilometers of cock that I would have had to suck to go to the Olympic Games, to discrimination in the locker room, where they left me alone, nobody spoke to me ”.

Charlotte refereed international ice hockey matches for ten years, including seven at the top French men’s professional level. Among them six World Championships and two Olympic Games, Sochi and Pieonchang.

“It was not me who decided to end my career. That right was taken away from me since I spoke at the 2018 Olympic Games. I accused the Federation of having become a victim of discrimination both in sports and in the management of my career. I denounced discrimination, sexism and sexual assaults against other female referees, and from that moment on, the omerta was organized. They clearly told me that the victim was not me, but the institution he was accusing ”.

Sociologist Beatrice Barbusse, secretary of the French handball federation and author of, among other books, de Of sexism in sport, explains: _ “They judge us as incompetent a priori. As you are a woman, you are not competent a priori. It is up to us to show that we are competent. A man does not even consider it. I was able to realize that in a certain number of situations I would suffer disqualification, humiliation or that I would be discredited to annul you. You always have your gender on you. _

Sport has traditionally been a “man’s thing”, both in terms of participation and decision-making. The representation of women in sports federations in the EU is around 14%. Studies reveal that a minimum of 30% is required to establish the difference. Barbusse, the first French woman to run a professional men’s sports club, believes in direct intervention.

The sociologist supports the French law of 2014 which states that sports federations that have at least 25% female women must have 40% women on their boards of directors. “_There must be women women at all levels of the sports pyramid. It can be imposed by law. And it has to be imposed not only in France, it must be imposed in Europe. Yes, quotas are necessary.” _

Audrey Cordon-Ragot, French national road cycling champion not only runs to win, but also to promote the presence of women in cycling. He believes that discrimination is deeply ingrained: “Today we continue to sign amateur licenses as women within the French Cycling Federation. This does not happen with men, who sign professional contracts. All we ask is that our real value be recognized in making cycling our job ”.

Audrey founded an association to protect the cycling rights of women and has chosen to race for a non-French team, Trek-Segafredo: “Racing for an American team helps me to emancipate myself and see things differently than I would have seen them if I had stayed in France. We all know that the English-speaking countries are forerunners of the equal game between men and women. Being part of this team underscores my position on this issue and is a way to defend it even more. “

International studies reveal that women’s sporting events represent between 15% and 20% of media coverage in Europe, with the written press being the most dominated by men.

We spoke with the director of The Team, French privately owned television channel and sports newspaper, Did you mean: cazadieu l’équipe Jerome Cazadieu: “It is true that if we take into account the last four or five years, we have covered a little less, football aside, women’s sporting events and team sports, because today there are fewer champions in French sport. “

In August, L´equipe was criticized for prioritizing the Tour de France on the front page and not the French women’s team Olympique Lyonnnais, winner of the fifth consecutive Champions League title.

For Cazadieu “It is a matter of news hierarchy. We posted the story and it appeared on the cover, we made a big banner. I don’t wake up in the morning saying that I have to seek equality between male and female sports. What makes women’s sport more visible at the end of the day is the performance of our teams. We have been criticized for not having opened on the cover with the victory of the Olympique Lyonnais players, but public television did not broadcast the game either ”.

The effort and determination have begun to pay off. The situation has been constantly improving on all fronts, despite the barriers that still exist, such as the pay gap. Claire Floret has fought since 2015 for a women’s Tour de France and in the end there will be. The Tour will return in 2022. His campaign in favor was decisive.

Claire Floret’s project has led to a platoon, a growing groupe of cyclists throughout the stages of the Tour one day before the official competition. Now they are training hard despite Covid restrictions: _ “The idea behind this is to make cycling more accessible to everyone and to show that whatever our sporting profile, we all have our place on the bike. _Es quite an achievement a real result for us. We know it will bring fresh oxygen to women’s cycling in general. It will have so much visibility that it will automatically attract more sponsors for the teams. This will allow them to better structure and pay our riders better. It is a virtuous cycle. ” .

Women have realized that they need to be united to win the race for equality in sport.635560_EN.pdf% 2B & cd =% 204% 20 & hl =% 20es% 20 & ct =% 20clnk% 20 & gl =% 20uk% 20 & client =% 20firefox-b-ab) Networking between disciplines has become crucial to winning a level playing field where there is no room for sexism.