There has been a big trend in recent years that has seen international sport work towards gender equality. This has been done in both symbolic and more meaningful ways. For example, World Rugby recently announced that it was removing gender names from its Rugby World Cup competitions, so both men’s and women’s tournaments will go by the same name. Meanwhile, the BBC gave unprecedented coverage to the FIFA Women’s World Cup when it took place in 2019.
Other sports have not been as successful in championing female players. For example, American football is dominated by men, with limited opportunities for women to play. There is no women’s NFL league, so you will find no “sister team” of any of the NFC contenting teams, with the closest to a women’s professional league being the Legends Football League. However, this started life as the widely criticized Lingerie Football League.
Cricket Setting an Example
One sport that has been working hard to promote gender equality is cricket. It has come a long way in a short space of time, after bad press in 2016 when men received business class travel to the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup in India, while women had to fly economy. Cricket’s gender equality has been focused both on and off the pitch. Players like Baroness Rachael HeyhoeFlint helped to get women permitted into the famous Marylebone Cricket Club, while players like Stafanie Taylor help show how successful female cricket players can be.
Australia is one of the most successful cricketing nations in the world, and it is leading the sport in gender equality. The Western Australian Cricket Association has worked hard to get women more representation in the sport. Now more than 56% of General Managers are female, compared to just 25% of all staff in 2012. There has been a 550% increase in female participation in cricket, with around 70,000 women participating in the state.
The Women’s Big Bash League has also grown, becoming a standalone competition with a strong group of supporters and impressive TV viewing figures.
Like all sports, cricket still has a long way to go in achieving complete gender equality. However, it is making strides towards this both on and off the pitch. By continuing on this trend, female cricket could very quickly catch up to the male sport. However, it is unlikely we’ll see a mixed-gender competition any time soon.