Today marks the beginning of ‘This Girl Can’ week; a week dedicated to the celebration of women in sport. But why is this week necessary?
Male clubs across the sporting world, within and beyond university, have dominated sporting discourse. It is because of this that women face such adversity and must overcome so many stereotypes in the sporting world. ‘You run like a girl,’ is just one of the many negative stereotypes attached to female participation in sport. However, women’s sport continues to defy these stereotypes, and as a result, is increasingly making its way into sporting discourse.
The media plays a crucial role in identifying this success. For example, the semi-final of the Women’s European football championship where the Lionesses faced Holland, was aired on live television, with a record number of over 4 million viewers. While it is easy to compare this to men’s football, where if England men were ever to make it that far the entire country would have shut down, it is still an important step in recognising this growing profile of women in sport.
We can even establish this trend as close to home as through QMUL’s female clubs; with over 20 female teams competitively playing, and a huge club presence across campus, women are reforming, and dominating, the sporting world. QMBL Women’s basketball, QM Women’s football and QMBL Women’s Water polo all currently compete in BUCS 1A (the second highest BUCS league) with women’s football and water polo currently sat at the top of their league. Women are capable, women can dominate.
We need to be a part of this growing phenomenon of the crumbling of gender norms and defeating of stereotypes. There is no longer a confinement to gender specific sports. Women are not prescribed merely to ballet or dance, but rather successfully participate in rugby, football, boxing, and so on. Take the success of QMBL women’s rugby, for example, as one of the biggest female clubs on campus. Netball have 7 teams participating in BUCS, and their presence on campus is unmissable. Women’s hockey came top of their league last season. This year, Boat Club have finally purchased a boat especially for women after years of training in an unsuitable men’s boat. We need to continue to work together to keep this conversation alive.
This week, dedicated to This Girl Can, is an opportunity to appreciate and acknowledge this new phenomenon of a more female dominated sporting world. Female participation in sport is only going to increase, as females become increasingly aware and exposed to the opportunities available to thrive. We need to work together to assert women’s place in the sporting world. The time is now.