Women in Sport - Thematic Research

Women in Sport - Thematic Research


An analysis of the current landscape of women's sport, and how it's reached this current position

Historically, sexist and discriminatory attitudes to females participating in sport have stunted the growth of women’s sport, with the male variety of almost every kind of sport having a greater profile and financial power. While certain sports have made significant strides in leveling the playing field, there remains much work to be done.

An issue that has faced women’s sport for decades is its lack of marketing in comparison to popular and already-established men’s sport. Because men’s sport has been around for longer, fanbases have grown significantly-and with large groups of fans comes more-focused marketing. Women’s sport has never received the same amount of promotion due to the fact that it simply does not attract as many fans. However, 78% of sports consumers believe that female athletes should receive the same coverage as the men.

While interest in women’s sport has increased dramatically in recent years, there still exists a significant amount of sexism towards female athletes. Online trolling and abuse against them is prominent, and while this behavior can be seen as emblematic of social media, it is still harmful to the athletes and appears to happen at a disproportionate rate compared to male athletes.

Women’s sport is at a critical juncture, as it tries to secure a more even footing with its male counterparts. While the amount of money currently being earned by female athletes has never been higher, it still lags significantly behind that of men. Closing the gap will require women’s sport to keep growing in popularity, which can only happen by making it accessible to a wider audience. This move has worked well for women’s soccer, with many of its biggest tournaments and leagues being broadcast on free-to-air platforms, increasing their visibility among sports fans.

Key Highlights

  • The revenues generated by women’s sport are expected to grow to $1.4 billion by 2030, with an estimated eclipsing of $1 billion expected by 2027. This will occur due to the rising popularity of women’s sport, as well as greater social visibility and following of major female athletes. While there is a rising interest in women’s sport, the reality is that the majority of female athletes are under-marketed and so many sports fans are unable to name celebrated female athletes, whose achievements often rival their male counterparts in terms of significance. To highlight the issue of under marketing, among the main social media channels of UK sport’s main governing bodies, less than 30% of their most prolific images feature female athletes, a discrepancy that is even more significant in sports such as soccer, cricket, and rugby.
  • Research from Getty Images reveals that people want to see pictures of athletes who look more like themselves, or athletes from varying cultural backgrounds playing sports. 64% of women and 59% of men surveyed by Getty Images stated that if the sports industry did a better job of including individuals from more diverse backgrounds throughout leadership, coaching, and employee base roles, then more people would consider participating in sports. People’s perceptions of what is possible in sport are based on who they see, and the increasing growth of women’s sport gives hope to young girls looking to emulate their heroes. In previous generations, representation was such that it was difficult for young girls to have role models to look up to. 68% of sports fans now believe that organizations and brands must do more to promote women in sport.
  • Women’s tennis stands as one of the most successful examples of empowering female athletes, given that the sport has the smallest pay gulf between men and women. While the pay in women’s tennis is still lower, the margin between genders is approximately 34%, which is far lower than any other professional sport. This was driven by female tennis players demanding equal pay at the major grand slams for years. The US Open was the first to adopt the practice when in 1973, Billie Jean King threatened to boycott the event unless the female participants were paid on equal footing with their male counterparts. Wimbledon, the world’s oldest tennis tournament finally relented in 2007, promising equal pay for its male and female athletes. Venus Williams was among the most vocal voices, pleading with the organizing body before the 2005 final. While it did not work that year, she penned an op-ed in The Times the following summer, and this led to the issue being debated in Parliament. The following summer, Wimbledon finally caved, but they received criticism for having taken so long to come to a decision that felt inevitable.
  • Social media has developed into an incredibly powerful tool for modern athletes, with the majority using Twitter and Instagram, among others, to grow their own personal brands and profiles. Some of the world’s most popular athletes have secured tens of millions of followers and are capable of generating significant sums of money through promoting their sponsorship agreements. Some female athletes have secured sizable social media followings, despite not being overly successful in their professional careers, with examples including Paige VanZant and Alisha Lehmann.
  • This report provides an overview of the history of women in sport, and the achievements of some of its key pioneers
  • It identifies the key trends that uniquely affect women’s sport, and how these have often impacted female athletes
  • A look at some of the more prominent news stories in recent times concerning female athletes
  • A detailed look at the women in sport value chain, and what generates value in the sector
Reasons to Buy
  • For those wanting an in-depth analysis of current state of play in women’s sport
  • Discusses the financial growth of women’s sport, and how much more widely viewed it has become through more accessible TV broadcasting as well as how the growth of social media has affected women’s sport
  • GlobalData’s thematic research ecosystem is a single, integrated global research platform that provides an easy-to-use framework for tracking all themes across all companies in all sectors. It has a proven track record of identifying the important themes early, enabling companies to make the right investments ahead of the competition, and secure that all-important competitive advantage.

  • Executive Summary
  • Players
    • Table Figure 1: Who are the leading players in the women in sport theme and where do they sit in the value chain?
  • Thematic Briefing
    • Serena Williams
    • Simone Biles
    • Lindsey Vonn
  • Trends
    • Industry trends
      • Table Industry trends
  • Industry Analysis
    • Market size and growth forecasts
      • Table Figure 2: Revenues for women’s sport in the UK will reach $1.4 billion by 2030
      • Lesser popularity
      • Pay gulf
      • Social media
      • Brittney Griner
      • Peng Shuai
    • Timeline
      • Table Figure 3: The women in sport story
  • Value Chain
    • Table Figure 4: The women in sport value chain
    • Broadcasting
    • Sponsorship
    • Attendance
  • Companies
    • Public companies
      • Table Public companies
  • Further Reading
    • GlobalData reports
      • Table GlobalData reports
  • Our thematic research methodology
    • Table Figure 5: Our five-step approach for generating a sector scorecard
  • About GlobalData
  • Contact Us

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