A Quest for Equality : A Gender Comparison of the BBC’s TV Coverage of the 1995 World Athletics Championships

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 Department of Sport Sciences, Bmnel University College, Osterley Campus, Isleworth, Middx. TW7 5DU, U.K
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The purpose of the study was to compare the televised depictions and portrayals of male and female athletes who partook in the so-called ‘masculine’ events of the marathon, shot-put and discus at the 5th World Athletics Championships in 1995. Both commentary and modes of production were analyzed in order to ascertain if women were treated equally in terms of the above modes of presentation when participating in physically challenging events that defy traditional and stereotypical notions of femininity.

Based upon the results, not only were the men’s events given greater air time, but the quality of the commentary and modes of production also favored the men’s events when compared with their female counterparts. Thus, commentators frequently framed the female athletes’ accomplishments in terms of traditional notions of femininity, through the use of negative, condescending and ambivalent descriptors and a gendered hierarchy of naming.

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