Nearly half of all participants in the Tokyo Olympics are women. Donata Hopfen has run the German Football League business since this year. And since March, there have been four vice-presidents on the DFB’s executive committee, after Hamburg’s Hannelore Ratzburg fought alone for decades against the “male economy” in Germany’s largest sports federation. Doesn’t sport sound that bad, at least when it comes to gender equality?
Mathematical sociologist Hartmann Teuse: Men are always the reference
At first glance perhaps – and above all thanks to some recent ‘reforms’ which have led to remarkable progress in the permanent building site of diversity in the sport. But there are still many areas to work on in terms of recognition, fair pay, equal opportunity and recognition in sport. “Men are always the reference, always the priority – so the women are always second,” says Elsie Hartmann Teuse, a sports sociologist at the Sports University of Cologne, at the NDR Sports Club. “And then the almost logical consequence is that they get paid less. Of course, this is severe social inequality.”
Olympia Founders Male Athletes
The fact that men are almost always referred to in sports is deeply rooted in history. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, saw the World Sports Festival as a celebration of male sports with “women’s applause as a reward”. Nearly 130 years later, such gender stereotypes exist only in a few sports. However, in the use of language, biases still exist. Women’s football and women’s handball are constantly talked about as if they were separate sports rather than sports played by both men and women.
“Men are always the reference, always the priority – so the women are always second.”
Mathematical sociologist Elsie Hartmann Teuse
“The sport itself will be the biggest winner in gender quotas, equal opportunity and diversity in sport,” says the website of the German Olympic Sports Federation (DOSB). At the same time, the The Women’s General Assembly of the umbrella organization for German sports decided in September 2021 that there was still great potential to be tapped into the participation path paved by “a lot of commitment and a lot of struggle”. Especially in management positions, where strategies are defined and change processes are initiated. The proportion of women on the German coaching team at the Olympic Games in Tokyo was only eight percent.
Female managers are underrepresented in German sport
Studies have long shown that teams and teams mixed with women in management positions perform better and are more successful. But while fairness and equal opportunity are core values in the sport, this realization seems slow to gain acceptance there. According to a study conducted by the specialized mediator “Stadionwelt”, it is clear that women are still underrepresented at the administrative levels of sports associations.
In the premier leagues of football, ice hockey, handball and basketball, less than ten percent of club management teams were women as of January 1, 2022. According to a study by auditing and consulting firm Ernst & Young, the number of female executive board members at DAX has increased by 160 from 74 to 94 within a year – 13.4% of top management positions in the economy.
Female athletes are deprived of reports
Another point that not only women at DOSB complain about is the portrayal of mathematics in the media. As in managerial positions, women here are clearly disadvantaged. According to studies by Macromedia Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, the proportion of reports on mathematics in the local media was less than ten percent in 2019. “It has been this way for the past twenty years. There are not many signs of change,” states in Hartmann-Tewse Realistic Assessment. It is also stated differently on mathematics: “You can see much less in mathematical work than men. And their performance is underestimated in words and description than men.”
TSV Nord Harrislee: Handball players start crowdfunding
For example, TSV Nord Harrislee’s handball team started a crowdfunding campaign to fund the following second division season. “We are the most successful women’s handball team in Schleswig-Holstein. Hence it is difficult for us to find a sponsor, even though we are represented all over Germany. This is kind of incomprehensible”, says captain Ronia Löw. It’s no different for the national water polo team: German women see the call for donations as the last chance to bring together the missing €50,000 for the European Championship trip in Croatia.
Ride: Points are deducted for short maternity leave
A sport in which men and women compete equally at the highest level is horseback riding. However, there are also systems that women feel discriminated against. Hamburg jumper Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann started again in a tournament in Spain just two months after giving birth to her son – and was stripped of all her world ranking points for not maintaining her planned six-month break. But even if she returns to the course after only six months, she will lose 50% of her points. Meyer-Zimmermann found that women were disadvantaged, and for this reason, along with other knights, Launched the “#EqualEquest” initiative to increase equality of opportunity in equestrian sports.
Beach handball: suitable for cycling shorts instead of bikini bottoms
Unfortunately, outward appearances still play a role for women and girls in sports. The desire to attract more attention has led to a somewhat revealing of the dress codes in some sports. Last summer, Norwegian beach handball players caused a stir when they donned cycling shorts instead of billed bikini shorts as a protest at the European Championships. Then the European Handball Federation imposed a fine on the Norwegians. The rule has now changed.
50:50 Challenge – NDR joins the BBC . initiative
There is no problem of balanced reporting only in Germany. In the UK, the BBC launched the 50/50 Challenge five years ago. The goal is to constantly display various women on the screen and behind the microphone, to show them equal rights to the content of the program. NDR joined this initiative.
Great Britain, as the host nation of the European Championship in July, has done pioneering work in recent years in promoting and marketing women’s football. Earlier this year, company director Debbie Hewitt became the first woman in the 150-year history of the Football Association (FA) to hold the position of FA president. In Norway, former player Liz Clavens was elected president of the National Football Association in March. And what about Germany?
Combes, Schweedler, Omilad: Women in Power
According to the association, the proportion of women in management positions in the union is now around a quarter. Representatives of 36 Bundesliga clubs have just decided on mandatory criteria for obtaining licensing. This also includes a code of conduct, according to which employees are required to distance themselves from any kind of discrimination and to be committed to equality, diversity and inclusion.
In fact, more and more women are taking on positions of responsibility in clubs. FC St. Pauli has served as Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Sandra Schweedler for eight years, and Eintracht Braunschweig has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Nicole Combes for the first time since March. Most recently, former national player Navina Omilad was the first woman to be appointed to the Holstein Kiel Supervisory Board.
Even if, in terms of diversity and gender equality, German sport obviously reacts more to external stimuli than to acting itself – no one can resist the urge to get more involved. The following effective sections on the long-term construction site are likely to be released soon.