First, “less than” logic has reinforced hegemonic masculinity, creating inequality divisions for women as athletes and as leaders in sports. The divisions take the form of the condition, opportunity, and capacity. For example, in America, boys who play sports in high school gain admiration from their friends, while the girls who play sports are seen as masculine or lesbians. These tags negatively affect the willingness of women to participate in sports. Importantly, women who try sports or sports leadership and fail are subjected to unnecessary and more painful ridicule while it is regarded as normal for men to fail in sports. According to Anderson and Fidler, (2018), leadership in sports is mainly about power and the unequal power relations inherent in sports management focuses on “who” is sport than “what” is sport. Currently, sports has become a business more than a fun activity. Organizations in charge of sports have emphasized on masculinity qualities such as aggressiveness in sports leadership while associating femininity with tenderness and submissive that are perceived as a liability in the business world.
Secondly, the logic has promoted gender marking here; associating sports and leadership in sports is regarded as a natural norm. Women find it hard to balance a feminine image with the masculine qualities associated with the sports they want to participate in. orthodox conception demands that females maintain their hegemonic femininity, even sports. This conflict is referred to as the “female/athlete paradox,” where engaging in athletic activities is perceived as empowering, whereas maintaining the acceptable feminine demeanor is disempowering. Studies reveal that female athletes still struggle with traditional/orthodox conceptions that focus on maintaining femininity in sports to gain wider acceptance (Pape, 2020). Even the description of females in sports has been “slender, passive unsure of self” in contrast to the masculine description of aggressive, confident, and strong. Moreover, the orthodox conception of masculinity perpetuates that some females are best suited for feminine sports activities such as skating, dancing, or even cheerleading.
Fixing the woman has done little to fix the existing and protected preconceptions. The ideals of masculinity and femininity are largely societal rather than individualistic. For example, traditional settings still regard a woman and a sportswoman as two separate identities. Even today, three major obstacles still exist in conservative settings that ‘fixing the woman’ has failed to solve concerning sports (Gibson, 2017). First, contact-team sports demand aggression, such as rugby. Since women are perceived as being tender and passive, teaching them aggressiveness has not worked well has even a majority of them dread the “brutal” human contact that one is exposed to. Second, some sports require training which can make the women develop “unsightly” muscles, which some fear may interfere with their health and reproductive cycles. Thirdly, some sports like kickboxing and martial arts comprise of “pain and blood” that are considered unacceptable female attributes.
The value for the feminine has shifted the focus from women’s leadership and/or athletic abilities to their physical appearance. Femininity has always put unwarranted emphasis on defending women’s appearance instead of their abilities. This has promoted the sexualization of sports and athletics and sports leadership. The more referenced talks are on women’s hair, make-up, body ship. On the contrary, masculinity hardly promotes muscular qualities instead focus on the abilities as exhibited in sports and/or leadership (Hovden & von der Lippe, 2019). The focus on feminine qualities has reinforced the notion that physical appeal and aesthetic appeal are essential, conversely perpetuating the gender inequality that Shaw and Frisby (2006) sought to address. The value for feminine has supported the idea that some colors such as pink are feminine, which explains why most women in leadership, sports, or athletics prefer pink.
The embodiment of femininity in pursuit of gender equality has only served to the advantage of heterosexual masculinity. Women are perceived as not being weak but also as objects of pleasure for men. From a young age, most parents teach their girls that it is okay not to get dirt or even get hurt while the boys, on the other hand, are hardened. Furthermore, femininity especially liberal femininity, encourages women to cherish their feminine more than their abilities (Murray & White, 2017). A substantial number of women in sports claim that they held back in athleticism pursuit so as not to lose their feminine by developing some masculinity qualities such as broad shoulders. This reinforces The Beauty Myth, where an ideal woman is considered small, thin, and weak, especially in American culture. Liberal feminism is critical of the gender differences supported by differential feminism and demand equal treatment, which does not necessarily translate to equality of results.
Fixing gender equality has done little in eliminating glass cliffs from manifestations of sexism, especially in sports. The two elements of sexism that cause glass cliffing are hostile and benevolent sexism. Hostile sexism promotes antipathy towards women, whereas benevolent sexism implicitly endorses some descriptive and prescriptive beliefs about women. For instance, women are naturally perceived as warm, tender, and friendly, while the workplace expectations are aggressive, firm, and cordial. According to Pape (2020), this has led to women in leadership being evaluated more negatively while exhibiting the same characteristics that men in leadership are praised for. As such, even though the ground has been leveled for both men and women, very few women choose to go against the traditional gender-constructed beliefs. Moreover, even after breaking the glass cliffs, women are viewed negatively when they fail to display communal qualities associated with femininity. Further, the symbolic strategy has gained popularity, especially in sports, when masculine leadership qualities are seen as the baseline for being a competent leader as opposed to feminine leadership qualities.
No person in the United States shall, based on sex, be excluded from access to sports and athletics, professional opportunities in sports, academic opportunities, educational support, and guidance.
First, this extension to Title IX will improve gender equity in sports and athletics. The institutions that benefit from federal funding will streamline their policies concerning sports and athletics to allow equal participation from both men and women (Zimbalist, 2017). The institutions will have to develop the equitable distribution of resources to both male and female sports, reducing favoritism based on sex in resource allocation. Importantly, institutions will have an obligation to regularly support and sponsor an equal number of sports and athletic activities to ensure that both males and females get equal chances to showcase their talent.
Secondly, this extension will promote equality in professional opportunities in sports. Currently, only 20-30 percent of sports coaches are women in America. With this extension, women will stand equal chances with men to be voted or appointed to leadership positions. Particularly, women will get the same opportunities to coach male sports teams (Cruz, 2021). Concerning professional remuneration where there is a huge disparity, the extension will enhance the homologous remuneration framework that is independent of the SEX of the professional. In that regard, the extension will help fix the current disparity where male coaches in the United States earn up to 50 times more than their female counterparts do.
Thirdly, it will enhance equality regarding academic opportunities, educational support, and guidance. Male and female students in institutions that benefit from federal funding will be subjected to the same selection criteria with no sex bias. In addition, the school-based academic grants should have an equal number of male and female students as beneficiaries, and the amount allocated to each to be relatively equal (Zimbalist, 2017). The differences should not be inclined to sex bias. Guidance offered should be merit based and not projected to promote either masculinity or femininity.
Anderson, E., & Fidler, C. O. (2018). Elderly British men: Homohysteria and orthodox masculinities. Journal of Gender Studies, 27(3), 248-259.
Cruz, J. (2021). The constraints of fear and neutrality in title IX administrators’ responses to sexual violence. The Journal of Higher Education, 92(3), 363-384.
Gibson, H. (2017). Sport tourism and theory and other developments: some reflections. Journal of Sport & Tourism, 21(2), 153-158.
Hovden, J., & von der Lippe, G. (2019). The gendering of media sport in the Nordic countries. Sport in Society, 22(4), 625-638.
Murray, A., & White, A. (2017). Twelve not so angry men: Inclusive masculinities in Australian contact sports. International review for the sociology of sport, 52(5), 536-550.
Pape, M. (2020). Gender segregation and trajectories of organizational change: The underrepresentation of women in sports leadership. Gender & Society, 34(1), 81-105.
Zimbalist, A. (2017). What to do about Title IX. In Sporting Equality (pp. 71-76). Routledge.