In last week’s post I brushed very briefly on the topic of being one of the few women in a male dominated Postgraduate degree. To be more precise, in the only lecture I’m attending this term (being a part-time student), about 12% are women. This number is open to interpretation. To me, it seems too low a percentage, yet it makes me wonder what the ratio was like 5-10 years ago, when MBAs in Sport Management were in their infancies. Moreover, how reflective of broader Business studies is the current - and why not past - ratio?
If we think about the European sports industry (and it’s particularly relevant to stress the word European here) beginning a process of professionalisation roughly about 20 years ago, instigating, although not exclusively, a migration of professionals from other industries into the business of sport within this time frame, why is the ratio of men and women working in sports still so disparate? And rather more alarmingly, why are still so few women seeking education in the sports industry?
Accessibility is a very trendy topic at the moment - and not only in sports. But I wonder whether the problem is not more deep-rooted. From my experience, the vast majority of my female friends are simply not interested in sports. They sometimes amuse me in pretending to be interested in my many football rants, but it all boils down to interest - whatever it is they prefer to be doing, sports is simply not in their personal agendas. Meanwhile it’s close to a guarantee hit to discuss football with any of my male friends.
In this sense we can draw parallels between sports and engineering and ask: why are there a majority of male engineers? I won’t bother going into statistics on how many active female engineers integrated the industry 30 years ago compared to how many are active nowadays as these numbers are bound to vary greatly from country to country. Society, undeniably, plays an important albeit passive role.
So is it a matter of prejudice? Too wide a topic to approach on a single post, but I can say for myself that while I did sense the intrigued look when walking into the classroom for the first time, I certainly haven’t felt discriminated in any shape or form. Rather the other way around - if anything, the few relationships I’ve had time to develop over these first 4 weeks seem more receptive and growingly attentive.
Is it perhaps a vicious circle? Less women feel compelled to pursue a career and integrate the sports industry as they fear a lack of understanding or even prejudice? Or is that too much of a feminist approach? Does it matter if none of your peers are of the same sex? In my work environment I’m surrounded exclusively by men - has this deterred me in any way? Not for a minute. But then I’m not that easily influenced so perhaps it’s more a personal matter, which seems to circle round to preferences.
After my article last week I got a very interesting email from Hungary briefly describing how degrees in Sports are perceived in that country - or rather how little importance is attributed to them. Taking this geographical variation concept into this week’s context, I’m really interested to hear the reader’s feedback in A) how Postgraduate degrees in Sport Management are perceived within your own country, and B) what would you say, in approximate numbers, is the overall ratio of women undertaking Postgraduate degrees in Sport? This isn’t about hard evidence and factual numbers so don’t feel discouraged to have your say - this is all about impressions and the discussion surrounding it.
Get in touch! Email me and help shape the discussion.