Scholars Sartore and Cunningham on women in leadership roles in sport

Melanie L. Sartore and George B. Cunningham have looked into why women are underrepresented in leadership positions of sport organisations. They published a journal article called Explaining the Under-Representation of Women in Leadership Positions of Sport Organizations: A Symbolic Interactionist Perspective in 2007 via The World’s Leading Sport Resource Centre website .

They are using a symbolic interactionist approach to try to understand why women are underrepresented in leadership positions of sport organisations. A symbolic interactionist approach means that:

… the multiple identities of an individual (i.e., the self) are manifested through behavior, cognitive, and emotional responses to patterned societal symbols and language (Blumer, 1969; Burke, 1980; 1991; Mead, 1934; Stryker, 1980). In this way, the self forms through societal interaction, the responses of others in various situations, and ultimately reflects the perceived meanings of society (Mead, 1934).

They are arguing that social ideologies in general and sport ideologies in particular are reproduced through organizational practices, language, and symbols and translates through interaction.

So when the self embraces ideological attitudes, meanings, and beliefs, behaviours may not only embody traditional gender norms and roles, but also serve to limit one’s inclusion and acceptance within commonly settings associated with gender stereotypes.

This means that the self might limit your behaviour without you even realising it. This self-limiting behaviour might limit the capacity of women within the sport context. Women don’t view themselves as leaders and that can prevent them from acting as leaders.

Sartore and Cunningham’s article is really interesting because not much research is done in this area. Most research is quantitative and looking at the representation of female and male in sport. This is good but we need to know WHY women are underrepresented in leadership positions in sport. So I look forward to see more research in this area.


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Publishers of material about women in leadership roles in sport

There are quite a few websites publishing material of women in leadership roles in sport. However, none of the websites are focusing on women in leadership in sport alone.

One of the websites out there called is focusing on women in leadership roles. This website is trying to level the playing field and help women into leadership positions. Attached to this website is an online journal, Advancing Women in Leadership Journal. Published on the online journal are journal articles about women in leadership and among these published articles are articles on women in leadership roles in sport.

Women going head to head for the top position. Creator: dno1967b

The International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) is also publishing material of women in leadership roles in sport.

The vision of the IWG is to realize a sustainable sporting culture that enables and values the full involvement of women in every aspect of sport. The mission is to be a catalyst for the advancement and empowerment of women and sport globally.

So this website is not only focused on women in leadership but women in all aspects of sport.

Australia and Canada have two pretty similar associations who are publishing material about women in leadership roles in sport. These two associations are Australian Womensport & Recreation Association and The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS).

There are also government websites which are publishing articles on women in leadership roles in sport. The Australian Sports Commission and the UK Sport websites are good examples.

Then there are media outlets who are publishing an occasional article on women in leadership roles in sport. There are also quite a few journal articles spread around the web dealing with this topic.

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Women in leadership roles in sport

There are not enough women in leadership roles in sport. The Crawford Report, The Future of Sport in Australia, from 2009 said:

Women are under-represented in leadership roles, as coaches and administrators in sporting organisations. This is an opportunity missed in this extremely competitive sector. … With roughly the same number of participants in sport, it would be a realistic goal to have closer to 50 per cent representation of women in these leadership roles.

Women are not only under-represented in these roles in Australia but all over the world. There are just not enough women in decision-making and leadership roles in sport said Raija Mattila, co-chair of the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG).

There are organisations and governments around the world working to tackle this gender divide. But are they doing enough? Can something else be done?

I think we can do more. My idea is to compare and contrast what is being done around the world to tackle this gender divide. I also want to do profiles of women in leadership positions in sport to give the public a chance to go online and really see who these women are and what they are doing.

This will be an inspiring website for girls and young women to follow their passion for a leadership role in sport. Women need other women to look up to. They need role models.

This website will also list scholarships, grants, programs and tools that women can access if they want to get into a leadership position in sport. These lists will make it easier for women to know what’s out there.

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Scholar Andrew Hughes on Women Sport in Australia

Andrew Hughes is a School of Management, Marketing & International Business lecturer at the Australian National University. He has written an article about the marketing of women in sport in Australia in 2011.

In his article he explains that most Australian sports women focus their marketing around sex appeal. This has been a trend in the marketing of Australian women for years. But is it time to change this marketing approach?

Hughes wants women sport to focus their marketing on the sport and not on the athlete. It’s about time that the sport is in focus in a country like Australia where sport is so important. Women do not longer need the calendars and men’s magazine ads.

The smarter athletes have realised the limitations of pure sex appeal and now focus on offering a personal brand that is attractive, intelligent and an excellent role model with on field and off field behaviour (Andrew Hughes).

An increasing number of female athletes are marketing their brand and moving away from sex appeal. Many of these athletes are Australian.

Hurdler and Olympic medallist Sally Pearson, cricketer and soccer player Ellyse Perry, basketballer Lauren Jackson and tennis player Samantha Stosur all are great examples of athletes that market their brand as a complete package (Andrew Hughes).

Netball is the best marketed women sport in Australia. A bank like ANZ does not want any negativity from their sponsorships and that’s why netball is such a good fit. When was the last time you heard of a netballer going clubbing and getting into trouble? Thought so.

So what women sport in Australia needs to do is to move away from sex appeal marketing and start to market the entire brand of the sport itself.

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Publishers of Women Sport in Australia

Sporting Sheilas is a website promoting Australia’s women’s national sport teams. They have their own Facebook page, their own YouTube channel and they are using to bookmark news articles they find on the web.

Last liked video of Sporting Sheilas on YouTube.

Sporting Sheilas also have their own blog but this hasn’t been updated since 14 February 2010. Their blog Women’s Sport Blog has very few comments. Most of the posts have no comments what so ever. This may have been a wake up call for the people writing the blog. What’s the point in writing a blog if no one reads it? Or maybe they had a few readers but no one was willing to start a discussion about the topics raised.

It looks like Sporting Sheilas understood that there was no point in updating their blog. So instead they spent their time updating their Facebook page and bookmarking news articles using They figured out that this was what their audience wanted.

The Women’s Game is a website promoting women’s football (soccer) in Australian and overseas. At the moment they are upgrading their website and will re-launch it early in September. They also have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. It is their Twitter account they are using to give their audience the latest news. They have their Twitter account connected to their Facebook page so all their tweets go up on their Facebook page as well. This is very clever because you get your content published on two separate media outlets by only writing it once. Timesaving!

It’s important to interact with your audience and that’s what The Women’s Game is doing on Twitter. You also have to think about using different platforms like YouTube and Facebook. Bookmarking articles on the web is a good way of facilitating your audience.


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Women in Sport

In Ancient times, women were not allowed to either watch or participate in physical activity. Back then a woman had to be passive and obedient to be attractive to her male friends. Traditionally sport has been dominated by men. It has even been argued that sport was harmful to women. But with the 1960s women’s liberation movement this attitude changed dramatically when women demanded gender equality.

Although women were getting more and more involved in sport from the 1960s, there is still a long way to go. Numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that there are more men than women participating in organised sport and physical activity (29% of males compared with 24% of females).

Australia is a nation extremely interested in sport. But it’s usually male sport that get talked about and get the media coverage. Women in sport are struggling to get media coverage.

Australian snowboarder Torah Bright. Creator: VancityAllie

The research project, Towards a Level Playing Field, undertaken by the Australian Sports Commission in 2008-09 shows the media coverage of sport to be overwhelmingly male dominated. Only 9% of all sport coverage in Australian television news media was coverage of women in sport.

Media coverage is crucial for any sport, and for female sport to grow it needs more coverage in the media. Young girls need female role models to look up to. They need to see that women can make it as elite athletes.

The Australian Sports Commission understands how important it is to promote women in sport and has made it “a key focus area for the future development of sport in Australia”. This shows that we’re moving in the right direction in Australia and it will be exciting to see the results of this development in the years to come.


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Academic Blog – My experiences in the Twittersphere

I started tweeting around a year ago with the handle @linn_87. When I started out, I had no idea how I should use Twitter. So my first tweets didn’t contain any links what so ever.

In recent months I have learnt how important it is to link to you sources in your tweets. Links make your tweets more credible because you’re telling your followers were you found the information. You’re not just putting information out there without any attribution.

As a journalism student I know how important it is to attribute information to a source. But when I first started using Twitter a year ago I didn’t know how to shorten links. This meant that a lot of the links I wanted to use where too long to fit into 140 characters, which is the character limit on Twitter.

When you know where to find and how to use a URL shortener it becomes a lot easier to use links in your tweets. My favourite URL shortener is Manly because you can see how many of your followers have clicked on your links. But you need to sign up to be able to see these statistics.

It can be an advantage to have access to these statistics because it tells you what your followers are interested in. Your followers will most likely only click on links that interest them. So these statistics can help you cater for your followers/audience.

You can cater for your audience by linking to information you know they will find useful or you can engage them in conversation. It’s up to you how you want to attract followers and keep them interested. But one thing you should keep in mind is that “conversational messages have more potential to engage audiences” (2011).

I think I still have a way to go when it comes to engaging my audience. In my eyes Annabel Crabb and Mark Colvin are very good at engaging their audience and they are an inspiration for me. I want to become just as good as they are at engaging my audience.

It is important for a aspiring journalist to follow well-established journalists on Twitter and see how they use the medium. Julie Posetti found in her research that “professional journalists are using Twitter to enhance and augment traditional reporting practices. Many journalists…are now logged onto Twitter throughout their working day” (2009).

ABC radio producer Andrew Davies told Julie Posettie that he tries to start his day by looking at what people are saying and talking about on Twitter. He said, “I love to read all the fantastic links to interesting websites, ideas (and) news that people have sent out” (2009). This stresses the importance of linking.

As ABC’s Managing Director Mark Scott wrote, “one of the things Twitter is most useful for is linking. In fact, 25 per cent of all Tweets contain links” (2010).

Reporters Julie Posetti interviewed are using Twitter “to ‘broadcast’ links to content they or their news outlet have produced in an effort to build a new audience” (2009). I have also published links to my own work on Twitter to try and build my readership. But with only 90 followers this is not easy.

By building up followers on Twitter you are building your readership. You can get people to follow you by commenting on their tweets, message them directly or live report events that other people find interesting.

On the 23th of April I went to an ice hockey game between Canberra Knights and Newcastle North Stars. I decided to live tweet the game and after the game I had three more followers. This was an eye opening experience for me and showed me how easy it can be to build your audience.

Twitter has given us the opportunity to report on an event as it unfolds. Good examples of real time reporting are the Christchurch earthquake, the disaster in Japan and the death of Osama bin Laden. I read about all of these events on Twitter before I heard about them in the mainstream media.

So Twitter allows the public to break news, but how do you know that what you read on Twitter is true? Rory O’Conner has written about the dangers of social media and unfiltered information.

“This unparalleled information access, although empowering, is also disruptive and presents its own unique set of issues and challenges, both to journalists and to society as a whole.”

He says that the audience can’t know for sure what is true and what is false when they are dealing with “unfiltered” information. And in an environment as Twitter faulty information can spread very quickly (2009, p.4).

Journalist Harley Dennett told Julie Posetti that the public is less likely to trust news broken on Twitter than news delivered by traditional media outlets.

“Sometimes people don’t believe me when I reveal something on Twitter before the full story, with supporting quotes and documentation, comes out in print or online. It’s hard to prove something in 140 characters when there’s nothing to link.”

As Julie Posetti says journalists should “exercise caution” and do proper research before publishing something they have seen on Twitter. It is very easy to set up a fake Twitter account and start publishing tweets (2009).

Journalists are constantly under pressure to produce stories and publish information. Sometimes it can be hard to verify tweets. Here is a link to a guide with 6 easy ways to verify tweets.

As a journalist you have to find a balance between accuracy, speed and depth. In the Twittersphere speed seems to be the most important, which concerns me. I don’t want social media to lower the quality of journalism.

But in some instances speed is the most important criteria. If an event is unfolding speed is essential and Twitter is a great tool to get information out to the public. As Roy Peter Clark writes, tweets can give the public snapshots from an “unravelling narrative”.

He says that while newspapers have moved away from mini-narratives, Tweeters can be very creative with the way they deliver news.

“A live blog is a kind of serial narrative constructed in real time, and Facebook and Twitter often resemble the grammar and style of direct, observed reporting (2011).”

Although, Twitter is a great tool for real time reporting there are obvious pitfalls. One of which are addiction. Watch this  YouTube video as an example.

Another pitfall is the amount of information you get on Twitter. Although it’s a lot of good information out there, how can you find THE GOOD information among all the other useless information? My answer to this question is, start using lists. By dividing the accounts you follow into lists, you organize the information, and it’s much easier to navigate your Twitter account.

Although, Twitter has some downsides it’s a revolutionary journalism tool. It is an important tool in broadcast journalism. If you watch Q and A on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Mondays you know that they are broadcasting tweets from the public. This is one of the ways you can use Twitter as a broadcaster, to get instant viewer feedback.

In most cases instant viewer feedback is a good thing. But when a staff member at the TV channel who is airing the tweets has to make them up because of too few responses, it is not a good thing. Priscilla Jebaraj reported that this happened at the Indian channel IBN in December 2010.

So as a broadcaster it’s important to be honest with your audience and only use tweets generated by the viewers. If not, I don’t see the point in using instant viewer feedback. It’s supposed to be a way for the viewers to interact in real-time and get their say.

Nevertheless, I think for the most part broadcasters are honest and are using Twitter in a legitimate way. When used in the right way Twitter is a great journalism tool. It has already changed and are changing journalism practises. So get on board and try it out because Twitter is here to stay.


Clark, RP 2011, How journalists are using Facebook, Twitter to write mini serial narratives, Poynter, viewed 13 May 2011.

Jebaraj, P 2010, Fake tweets aired on TV news show, The Hindu, viewed 14 May 2011.

O’Conner, R 2009, Word of Mouse: Credibility, Journalism and Emerging Social Media, Joan Shorenstein Centre on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, viewed 13 May 2011.

Posetti, J 2009, How Journalists Are Using Twitter in Australia, PBS Mediashift, viewed 12 May 2011.

Scott, M 2010, The Golden Age for Australian journalism, ABC The Drum, viewed 12 May 2011.

Studies find journalists use Twitter for broadcast 2011, Reportr, viewed 12 May 2011.


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