Barnet Post

Barnet Post

We need more women in sport

15-year-old boxer Ines Lopes says inequality in pay means there are not enough female role models in sports

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Ines Lopes boxing at Unitas. Credit: Ines Lopes
By Ines Lopes 09 November 2021

In collaboration with the charity Economy Barnet Post put on workshops at youth centre UNITAS to offer young people the opportunity to write about inequality.

In 2017 the #MeToo movement went viral and women were reminded that abuses of power result in gender inequality. When women are disempowered, they can be mistreated.

There are still a lot of women and girls experiencing inequality in their workplace, schools and especially, in sports. We need to change this. As a 15-year-old girl, I want to know why this is accepted in modern society and what we need to change?

I started by looking at inequality in pay between men and women. In 2019 the gender pay gap between men and women’s full-time earnings was 17.3% in the UK, which means that on average, women were paid approximately 83p for every £1 that men were paid. On average women who are working full-time are earning 8.9% less than men. The government cites women leaving work to take care of their children as one possible reason why women end up earning less than men and falling behind on their careers. But I think there’s more to it.

This is about power. Men are perceived to have it, and women do not. But, we are all born equal and we should receive the same fundamental rights. I raised this with someone close to me and he said women want more than what men have. Women do not ask for more, we ask for the same.

I wanted to speak to some women I admire to find out what they think about gender inequality. Yanily Bonilla assistant principal at Saracens High School (where I go to school) highlights inequality is not only experienced in gender but also in racial discrimination, or in options for the LGBT+ community. She emphasises that in different countries you have different rules and girls might have fewer opportunities. She thinks that in our society, girls are perceived to be more self-conscious, which allows men to do more work. She believes that having more female role models would help girls to gain the confidence to be themselves.

Sonia Green, a rugby player for Saracens, has experienced inequality in sports. She has played for Saracens rugby team for 20 years but this was her first year playing with her initials on the kit.

A stark contrast to her male colleagues who have always played with their initials. Sonia highlights that men playing rugby can live off their salary, whereas women playing are forced to get secondary jobs when they receive not even half the wages of their male counterparts. Sonia also advocates for more women in sports.

This is something I can really relate to. I’m a female boxer and I do not have any coaches who are female. If we did, then maybe more girls would feel comfortable training. As Sonia Green said, society needs to transform so that “gender stereotyping” ceases to exist. Women are often encouraged into caring roles and men into fields like science which is a better-paid industry. We need to change as a society so that it becomes even more commonplace to see a girl that is a boxer and a boy that is a dancer.

At Saracens High School I feel that I have the same power as boys. But, often, I’ve been frustrated when boys have football and basketball clubs and tend to have more matches than the girls. Of course, this excludes girls, making them think that the sport is not for them.

The exclusion of women happens in other areas too: politics, technology and engineering, to name a few of the industries I was looking into. Despite women making up 50% of the world’s population, in places of power, men are disproportionately represented.

Globally, no country has achieved full gender equality. This needs to change. Somewhere to start would be seeing more women in power. Somewhere to start, for me, would be seeing more women in sports. Men are not better and do not deserve better. We are both the same and we can both do the same.