Images of Sports Women: A review
Despite the steady increase in volume and quality of women’s sport participation over the last century, female athletes continue to be underrepresented across all platforms of the media. A range of mechanisms have been shown to contribute to media constructions of women’s sport, including the low volume of media attention, narrative focus, prominence of placement or scheduling, linguistic choices and visual representations of women’s sport. This review paper examines scholarly research on the role of print media images in the construction of attitudes towards and perceptions of women’s sport. Beginning with international research, the review thematically summarises selected literature to draw out some of the ways in which images are pressed into service in the sports media. Research from the Australasian region (Australia and New Zealand) is then reviewed and compared with the international research with a view to observing commonalities and differences. The review reveals that internationally and in Australasia, media images of sports women continue to fail to represent the realities of women’s sport performance. Some movement away from sexualisation is noted; however this appears to be occurring in concert with a slight reduction in terms of volume.