The Impact of Digital Culture on Women in Sport

  • Katie LebelEmail author
  • Ann Pegoraro
  • Alanna Harman


This chapter presents the results from several research projects related to women in sport and their interaction with social media platforms. The purpose is to provide a comprehensive look at some of the issues currently being faced by sportswomen, while providing a deeper understanding of the impact of digital culture on this demographic and generating insight into the negotiation of gender in the digital sport landscape.


  1. Angelini, J. R., MacArthur, P. J., & Billings, A. C. (2012). What’s the gendered story? Vancouver’s prime time Olympic glory on NBC. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 56(2), 261–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Antunovic, D., & Hardin, M. (2015). Women and the blogosphere: Exploring feminist approaches to sport. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(60), 661–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Billings, A. C., & Angelini, J. R. (2007). Packaging the games for viewer consumption: Gender, ethnicity, and nationality in NBC’s coverage of the 2004 Summer Olympics. Communication Quarterly, 55(1), 95–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boren, C. (2016, May 9). Fox sports radio tweets ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza would be fired ‘if she was a man’. Retrieved June 13, 2017 from
  5. Boyle, R. (2006). Gendered sport? Gendered journalism? In R. Boyle (Ed.), Sport journalism: Context and issues (pp. 144–159). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Bruce, T. (2016). New rules for new times: Sportswomen and media representation in the third wave. Sex Roles, 74, 361–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clavio, G. (2008). Demographics and usage profiles of users of college sport message boards. International Journal of Sport Communication, 1(4), 434–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clavio, G., & Eagleman, A. N. (2011). Gender and sexually suggestive images in sports blogs. Journal of Sport Management, 7, 295–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cohen, S., & Young, J. (1981). The manufacture of news. Deviance, social problems, and the mass media. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Cooky, C., Messner, M., & Musto, M. (2015). “It’s dude time!” A quarter century of excluding women’s sports in televised news and highlight shows. Communication and Sport, 3(3), 261–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Daugherty, T., Eastin, M. S., & Bright, L. (2008). Exploring consumer motivations for creating user generated content. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 8(2), 16–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Daniels, E., & Wartena, A. (2011). Athlete or sex symbol: What boys think of media representations of female athletes. Sex Roles, 65(7–8), 566–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deitsch, R. (2016, August 24). Uphill battle for women in NFL play-by-play role may soon reach a turning point. Retrieved June 13, 2017 from
  14. Duggan, M., Ellison N. B., Lampe C., Lenhart A., & Madden M. (2015). Social media update 2014. Pew Research Center. Accessed 12 June 2016.
  15. Fink, J. S., & Kensicki, L. J. (2002). An imperceptible difference: Visual and textual constructions of femininity in sports illustrated and sports ilustrated for women. Mass Communication and Society, 5(3), 317–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gerbner, G. (1998). Cultivation analysis: An overview. Mass Communication and Society, 1, 175–194. Scholar
  17. Geurin-Eagleman, A. N., & Burch, L. M. (2015). Communicating via photographs: A gendered analysis of Olympic athletes’ visual self-presentation on Instagram. Sport Management Review. Scholar
  18. Gibbs, C., & Haynes, R. (2013). A phenomenological investigation into how Twitter has changes the nature of sport media relations. International Journal of Sport Communication, 6, 394–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Glasspiegel, R. (2015, October 7). Here’s the Twitter rant about ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza that got an Atlanta radio host suspended. Retrieved June 14, 2017 from
  20. Glickman, L., & Fingerhut, J. (2011). User-generated content: Recent developments in Canada and the U.S. Internet and E-Commerce Law in Canada, 12(6), 49–76.Google Scholar
  21. Griffin, P. (1992). Changing the game: Homophobia, sexism, and lesbians in sport. Quest, 44, 251–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Harbison, M. (2016, May 19). Female media pros often face gender backlash, online harassment. Retrieved June 14, 2017 from
  23. Hardin, M., Lynn, S., & Walsdorf, K. (2005). Challenge and conformity on contested terrain: Images of women in four women’s sport/fitness magazines. Sex Roles, 53(1/2), 105–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hardin, M., Chance, J., Dodd, J. E., & Hardin, B. (2002). Olympic photo coverage fair to female athletes. Newspaper Research Journal, 23(2,3), 64–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Heinecken, D. (2015). So tight in the thighs, so loose in the waist: Embodying the female athlete online. Feminist Media Studies, 15(6), 1035–1052.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hetsroni, A., & Lowernstein, H. (2014). Is she an expert or just a woman? Gender differences in the presentation of experts in TV talk shows. Sex Roles, 70, 376–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hookit. (2017, June). Hookit index top 100. Retrieved from: Accessed June 2017.
  28. Hum, N., Chamberlin, P., Hambright, B., & Bevan, J. (2011). A picture is worth a thousand words: A content analysis of Facebook profile photographs. Computers in Human Behavior, 27(5), 1828–1833.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jones, D. (2006). The representation of female athletes in online images of successive Olympic Games. Pacific Journalism Review, 12(1), 108–129.Google Scholar
  30. Jones, D. (2013). Online coverage of the 2008 Olympic games on the ABC, BBC, CBC and TVNZ. Pacific Journalism Review, 19(1), 244–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kane, M. (2013). The better sportswomen get, the more the media ignore them. Communication & Sport, 1(3), 231–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kane, M., & Maxwell, H. (2011). Expanding the boundaries of sport media research: Using critical theory to explore consumer responses to representations of women’s sports. Journal of Sport Management, 25, 202–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kane, M. J., LaVoi, L. M., & Fink, J. S. (2013). Exploring elite female athletes’ interpretations of sport media images: A window into the construction of social identity and ‘Selling Sex’ in women’s sports. Communication and Sport, 1(3), 269–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kerner, O. (1968). Report of the national advisory commission on civil disorder. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  35. Kim, S. (2012, October 25). Chick-fill-A benefited from summer’s gay marriage flap with more customer visits. Retrieved June 14, 2017 from
  36. Kim, E., Walkosz, B. J., & Iverson, J. (2006). USA Today’s coverage of the top women golfers, 1998–2001. The Howard Journal of Communications, 17, 307–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Knight, J. L., & Giuliano, T. A. (2002). He’s a Laker, she’s a looker: The consequences of gender-stereotypical portrayals of male and female athletes by the print media. Sex Roles, 45(3/4), 217–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Knight, J. L., & Giuliano, T. A. (2003). Blood, sweat, and jeers: The impact of the media’s heterosexist portrayals on perceptions of male and female athletes. Journal of Sport Behavior, 26(3), 272–284.Google Scholar
  39. Krane, V., Ross, S., Miller, M., Rowse, J., Ganoie, K., Andrzejczyk, J., & Lucas, C. (2010). Power and focus: Self-representation of female college athletes. Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 2, 175–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lapchick, R. E. (2014). The 2014 associated press sports editors racial and gender report card. Retrieved May 9, 2017 from
  41. LaVoi, N. M., & Kane, M. J. (2011). Sociological aspects of sport and physical activity. In P. Pedersen, L. Thibault, & J. Quarterman (Eds.), Contemporary sport management. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.Google Scholar
  42. Lebel, K., & Danylchuk, K. (2012). How tweet it is: A gendered analysis of professional tennis players’ self-presentation on Twitter. International Journal of Sport Communication, 5, 461–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lebel, K., & Danylchuk, K. (2014). Facing off on Twitter: A generation Y interpretation of professional athlete profile pictures. International Journal of Sport Communication, 7(3), 317–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ludtke v. Kuhn. 461 F. Supp. 86 (S.D. NY. 1978).Google Scholar
  45. Mead, D. (2010, August 21). Twelve women who pioneered the era of female sports broadcasters. Retrieved June 12, 2017 from
  46. Mean, L. J., & Kassing, J. W. (2008). ‘I would just like to be known as an athlete’: Managing hegemony, femininity, and heterosexuality in female sport. Western Journal of Communication, 72, 126–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Messner, M. (2013). Reflections on communication and sport: On men and masculinities. Communication and Sport, 1, 113–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pegoraro, A. (2010). Look who’s talking-athletes on Twitter: A case study. International Journal of Sort Communication, 3(4), 501–514.Google Scholar
  49. Pegoraro, A. (2013). Sport fandom in the digital world. In P. Pedersen (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of sport communication (pp. 248–258). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  50. Pegoraro, A., Comeau, G., & Frederick, E. (2017). #SheBelieves: Fans’ use of social media to frame the US women’s soccer team during #FIFAWWC. Sport and Society. Retrieved from Scholar
  51. Rossingh, D. (2017). Australian open: ‘Hope you die slowly’—Tennis stars trolled. Retrieved from
  52. Ryan, S. (2016, June 20). WSCR’s Julie DiCaro a lightening rod on local sports media scene. Retrieved June 13, 2017 from
  53. Sanderson, J., & Kassing, J. W. (2011). Tweets and blogs: Transformative, adversarial and integrative developments in sport media. In A. Billings (Ed.), Sports media: Transformation, integration, consumption (pp. 114–127). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  54. Shreffler, M., Hancock, M., & Schmidt, S. (2016). Self-presentation of female athletes: A content analysis of athlete avatars. International Journal of Sport Communication, 9, 460–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Smith, L. R., & Sanderson, J. (2015). I’m going to Instagram it! An analysis of athlete self-presentation on Instagram. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 59(2), 342–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Toffoletti, K. (2017). Women sport fans – Identification, participation, representation. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tuchman, G. (1978). Making news: A study in the construction of reality. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  58. van Dijk, T. A. (1995). Discourse semantics and ideology. Discourse and Society, 6, 243–289. Scholar
  59. Weber, J., & Barker-Ruchti, N. (2012). Bending, flirting, floating, flying: A critical analysis of female figures in 1970s gymnastics photographs. Sociology of Sport Journal, 29(1), 22–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wirtz, J., Sparks, J., & Zimbres, T. (2017). The effect of exposure to sexual appeals in advertisements on memory, attitude, and purchase intention: A meta-analytic review. International Journal of Advertising. Scholar
  61. Women’s Media Center. (2015). WMC status of women in U.S. media 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2017 from
  62. Women’s Sport Foundation. (2011). Women’s sports & fitness facts & statistics. East Meadow, NY: Women’s Sports Foundation.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ted Rogers School of ManagementRyerson UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.School of Human KineticsLaurentian UniversitySudburyCanada
  3. 3.Kinesiology & Physical EducationWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada

Personalised recommendations