Thursday, November 08, 2012

Analysis of Sports Illustrated yields interesting data on portrayals of women athletes

A new study indicates that representation of women athletes is improving, but there’s a caveat to that point.

The University of Buffalo’s Kiera Duckworth analyzed Sports Illustrated issues during Olympic years and found that the majority of articles portrayed women athletes as “strong, competent athletes.” Her research was presented Thursday at the annual conference for the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport in New Orleans.

This is a positive signal for women’s sports because it is imperative that women athletes are recognized for their athletic prowess and not being sexualized.

However in her analysis of advertisements in the same issues, Duckworth found that there were differences in representation based on race. White women were portrayed as “the girl next door”, black females were shown predominately in a sporting context and Asian women were sexualized.

Taken together, Duckworth’s research indicates that the focus needs to be placed not just on journalists, but on advertising companies who also create societal representations of women athletes.

-- Steve Bien-Aimé

1 comment:

kamille said...

I believe that is a great point that Duckworth made about how the focus shouldn’t just be on journalists, but also on “advertising companies who create societal representations of female athletes.” To me this is huge because it seems like more and more advertisers are projecting women in a very sexualized manner. The example that I immediately think of is the Go Daddy commercials with Danika Patrick walking around naked. Commercials and advertisements like these are working backwards towards the progression of how the female athlete should be portrayed. Women sports get less coverage as it is and by making hypersexualized advertisements tells the younger generations that in order for people to watch them play they need to look sexy.