Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
You are the voice. We are the echo.
The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Echo
Erin Andrews

Does sports journalism have an equal playing field?

Female journalists are stuck in a cycle

While the increase of women in sports and the advancement of women’s sports in the media is apparent, there is still clear inequality.

A study published by the Atlantic Journal of Communication found that out of 2,242 sports-related articles, 94.9% were written by male journalists while only 5.1% were written by female journalists. 

Elise Hoylman, a freshman at Taylor University and sports writer for The Echo, said she has noticed the way The Echo’s female sports writers are only assigned women’s sports. 

She said she doesn’t believe her editor does this on purpose, but that it is a normal human subconscious bias to assign female writers to women's sports. 

“I didn’t even realize that we’ve done that, having (the female writers) cover mostly women’s sports, but we actually have. I didn’t even notice that. That’s crazy,” Caleb Heffron, the sports editor for The Echo said. 

Heffron said when it comes to assigning a story to one of his writers, he considers their experience with the topic, past stories and if they have any connections. 

While there needs to be a balance between the opportunities and range of sports that male and female journalists are covering, some journalists believe there can be an advantage to having women cover women’s sports and vice versa. 

Hoylman said women’s sports tend to be overlooked, so having female journalists cover them allows for female athletes and sports to receive the recognition they deserve in the media.

“I think there’s some merit to having women cover women’s sports and men cover men’s sports, because women and men are going to view things through a different lens…If I’m a dude and I’m getting interviewed by another dude, there’s probably a different level of understanding just on a human level,” Heffron said. 

Heffron said his female writers conduct strong interviews, providing insightful quotes about the heart of the players and how God is placed in the season, and his male writers are great at capturing how the players feel about the results of games. 

“I’m proud of how (our female sports writers) have really given us deep dives, every single time that we get an article, into the heart and soul of each team,” Heffron said. 

While Hoylman said she has seen an increase of women in sports reporting, she feels there needs to be more representation and priority given to female reporters.

Amy Stucky, the assistant professor of sport management at Taylor University, said she also believes she has been overlooked for roles in the industry due to being a female. She’s seen it happen subtly to her female students and other women in the industry.

She has seen females be overlooked for jobs due to the assumption that they may not be as committed or have enough time to devote to the organization because they are starting a family.

“That just sends me to the moon, first of all, that they even think along those lines, and secondly that (it) would even come into their determination of (a woman’s) ability or skill or that it would have anything to do with (her) doing a good job,” Stucky said.

With that being said, Stucky also worries about women being hired for the right reasons.

Women being placed in roles just to meet a quota is a tough reality to face. While it is giving women more opportunities in the industry, it isn’t necessarily helping them gain any power towards change.

“I don’t want to just get a job because I’m a woman. I want to get a job because I’m qualified, and I will bring value to that position and the organizational outcomes. So, there’s a fine line there,” Stucky said. 

When women are given these roles, they are usually the roles lowest on the totem pole. This means female journalists are usually not going to get the front-page story anytime soon. 

While front-page stories do come with more responsibility, they are also used as a means of promotion within the company.

When women aren’t given the opportunity to cover these stories, they find it harder to ever move into positions of power within a company. 

Thus, the cycle continues for female journalists.