Are women ‘real’ sports fans? The importance of sport for female fans

Stacey Pope 150.jpgStacey Pope is an Associate Professor in the School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University.

Her research focuses upon issues of gender inequality and sport and her research expertise is in the area of female sports fans. Her book The Feminization of Sports Fandom: A Sociological Study was recently published by Routledge.

If you’re a female fan of football or rugby, don’t expect a level playing field when it comes to being a supporter. Female football and rugby union fans in my research discuss how they have to routinely ‘prove’ their status as ‘real’ fans – usually to male supporters. Common stereotypes of female sports fans have included that they lack sporting knowledge, are only interested in the sexual attractiveness of (male) star players and are not as passionate or committed as male fans. Media coverage also typically represents women in subordinate ways; for example, a cursory internet search for ‘female fans’ brings up numerous sexualised images, doing little to challenge the perceptions of women as inferior sports fans. Continue reading

Social science helping to close the gender gap

Sarah Womack 150.jpgSarah Womack is former political correspondent and social affairs correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, with a particular interest in women’s issues and social science.

Here she writes about International Women’s Day, and how ESRC research contributes to its 2017 campaign theme #BeBoldForChange

There’s a fascinating piece of social history that goes like this; in the beautiful coastal outpost that is Aldeburgh, Suffolk, three young women gather in 1860 to plot their careers. One said she would become Britain’s first female doctor. One would pursue the right of women to go to university.

The third, only 13 at the time, would press for women to have the vote. Continue reading