Do Female Athletes in Canada Enjoy Equal Opportunity in Canadian Sports?

Many societies around the world have always had gender stereotypes regarding sports. Both male and female are expected to abide by the beliefs of the community and ensure fulfillment of their specified gender roles. For instance, in Canada it was believed that men should be strong, athletic, and independent, while women were perceived as fragile. Therefore, there were a lot of expectations and norms to follow (Clement 45).

Formally, women were not allowed to get involved in games that required physical contact as this was not acceptable socially in Canada and other western countries. Golf, archery, and croquet remained the only sports activities that ladies were partly allowed to participate in. While they were authorized in these sports, the community expected them to play safely and ensure maximum protection of their reproductive systems (Frankel 78).

Sports activities were previously associated with men, a belief that remains in Canadian sports. Then, it was evident that competitive events required masculine-related characters that made many ladies to avoid involvement. Facilities for these developments were not friendly to women who increased the inability of women to get involved in professional sports. Before the sports evolution, Canadian women were trained to think of games as being a gender-centered role in the society. This was different as men were getting encouragement by being taught on how to take part in competitive, strenuous games, and sports activities (Hanson and Krause 64)

The Canadian norms and beliefs dictate that children aged less eight years become aware of, and get affected by stereotypes shown against the female gender sporting events. This is a clear indication that the stereotyping of the female gender In Canada starts from a very young age. Young girls experience these stereotypes from their early childhood stages which make most of them lose interest in games that they are talented in (Clement 35).

In 2010, studies showed that males enjoyed participation in sports by 1.9% more than the female athletes in University sports. This, therefore, shows the disparity that still exists between male and female involvement in the Canadian sports. Presently, Canada has many professional and non-professional female sports teams in sports such as hockey, soccer, and tennis with an increase in women’s participation in sports. Despite this, the female athletes are still experiencing various forms of inequality about institutional barriers discussed below (Hartin and Wright 21).


One of the major inequality barriers in sports concerns coaching. Compared to male coaches, female coaches are very few in Canada. For instance, during the 2012 Olympics, only 19 of the 93 coaches were female. This number is very insignificant considering the number of women athletes that were taking part in the Olympics. Additionally, in 2010, out of the entire five teams in the female championship, none were women groups. This, therefore, shows that in spite of the number of female athletes participating in sports increasing; women still lag behind regarding leadership   (Horstmann and Tegtbur 23).

Leadership opportunities for female athletes in Canada are still limited. Studies done have shown that 17% of the head coaches, 24% of the directors of athletics and 22% of the coaches are female. These figures show that the number of women that are in leadership are few compared to the men in leadership. This inequality tends to demean women in that despite having the required skills; they still hold few leadership positions as compared to men (Hosni and Al Qudsi 89).

Proportionally, women serving in coaching positions are fewer nationally in Canada according to two of the four conferences held in 2010-11.Also, at the national level, men make up 2% more than the women who are head coaches. Consequently, this disproportion can be reflected in the number of teams that are coached by female coaches. Out of the total 254 coaches, only two women head teams. Additionally, out of the 259 women-only team’s coaches, 68% are male (Kirsner and Schwartz 43)

Media Coverage

Additionally, media coverage is another institutional barrier for achieving equality for female athletes in sports. Female athletes tend to receive little media coverage as compared to their male counterparts. When they do get the media coverage, it is often sexist in that the female always tend to appear in provocative poses. It is apparent that only 3% of the press coverage is for women sports. For instance, in 2001, only 27 out of the total 124 broadcasts in Canada were devoted towards airing the female summer games or events. It is, therefore, evident that from the manner in which the female sports are covered, inequality still exists in women sports (Sage and Eitzen 24).

Despite an increase in the number of female professionals, the majority of the mainstream press coverage still depends on men as the experts in the field of sports. Women, therefore, are always sidelined concerning their professional expertise. For instance, women athletes in Canada are usually given a short period of media coverage (Clement 15).

Studies conducted have found out that women sports are only given 9% of airtime while the male sports receive 88% devotion by various broadcasters.97% of the sports commentators are men despite the fact that female commentators are also experienced enough to provide media coverage  (Hartin and Wright 45).

Similarly, about 5% of the national print media in Canada seems dedicated to women sports. Also, only 24% tried to feature female sport in their sports coverage. A review done on Canada’s national sports networks in 2014 found out that only 4% was dedicated to coverage of women sports with almost more than half of it going to professional tennis coverage.

To add on that, the quality of female sports coverage are low compared to that of men’s sports. This is so because studies have shown that the amount of time that is dedicated to airing male sports tends to be more as compared to that given to female sports. Despite that, the quality of the female sports that are given media coverage tends to be low as compared to male sports (Hartin and Wright 65).

Additionally, the media images that are broadcasted for women in sports tend to be different from those of male athletes while in action. The female athletes are usually photographed in sexist photos unlike those of men. All these factors tend to provide evidence of the enormous disparity and inequality that is present in the Canadian sports that has, in turn, led to the unequal enjoyment of opportunities.

Due to the low media coverage the female athletes, therefore, do not get equal opportunities as the male sports tend to be given more media coverage. Regarding this, therefore, female athletes receive fewer possibilities in media coverage, unlike the male athletes.

Participation Opportunities

Also, inequalities have been observed in the levels of involvement by the female athletes in the Canadian sports. The male athletes tend to dominate Canadian sports as more men than women participate in sports. There are significant differences in the levels of participation in the sports.

Recent studies in sports in Canada suggest that between the ages of three and seventeen, 41% of the Canadian girls never participate in sports. This therefore leaves a significant amount of female athletes out while the men are represented by a high number who are physically active and take part in various sports. The balance in participation is very uneven with the female participation dragging behind in number (Kirsner and Schwartz 63).

A study about fuelling a lifetime engagement conducted in Canada established that the involvement and representation of female athletes in sport are usually centered around femininity rather than in the athletic accomplishments that they have. This has therefore led to discrimination of women’s participation in various sports.

Studies done on the proportionality of involvement in Canadian sports shows that 57% of the total attendance is by the male athletes while the female athletes only take up 43 % of the total participation in sporting opportunities. Therefore, it is apparent that the female athletes do not receive the same opportunities for participation as the male athletes are highly regarded hence priority of engagement given to them.


Additionally, procustomwriting studies have shown that there is about 2.8% participation opportunity for every 100 male athletes in the Canadian sports as compared to the 1.7% participation opportunities for every 100 female athletes (Kirsner and Schwartz 43)

A significant portion of Sports financing goes to the male athletes as compared to the female athletes. For instance, in the Canadian Yachting Association, nine men and only two women are sent to the London Olympic Games and majority of the financing went to the athletes who are of top potential who happen to be the male athletes.

Disproportion is also experienced in the difference in the amount that female athletes get paid in Canada. According to Catalyst Canada, a non-profit organization on expanding women opportunities, the global gap in the pay was about 8 thousand dollars between male and female athletes. This, therefore, shows that the female athletes receive a lower payment as compared to male athletes which lead to inequality hence lack of similar opportunities (Kirsner and Schwartz 93). Therefore, it is evident that there is the issue of unequal opportunities in Canadian sports industry, including different amounts paid to the athletes and uneven chances  in various aspects of sports.


Despite various successes in the female participation in Canadian sports, the female athletes are still battling with inequality. They are still facing many barriers towards enjoying equal opportunities.

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