Studies that have examined the disparity in investment between men's and women's sports are rare and are generally distributional in nature. Little research has been carried out that has explored the reasons why managers tend to invest in men's sport instead of women's. Given the rise in sponsorship spending, and the increasingly strategic nature of such investments, this represents an important gap in the literature. The purpose of this paper was to explore conceptually and empirically some of the possible reasons for this disparity. By examining the agreements made by the sponsors of two international women's sports teams, we found support for the contention that the values and beliefs of decision makers, the media representation of sport, and mimetic pressures on managers combine to heavily influence decisions about what and who to sponsor. We also suggest that if such factors can be overcome, women's sport has the potential to be a very useful marketing tool for certain firms.
Sally Shaw is with the Department of Sport Management at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2S 3A1. John Amis is with the Department of Human Movement Sciences and Education at the University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152.