Fair Play? The Triumphs and Challenges of Female Athletes in the U.S.

 

Executive Summary

The benefits of sports to girls and women has been well-established. Playing sports improves girls’ physical health, mental health, and their performance at school and work.

For this report, female athletes — high school, college, and professional/ semi-professional — were asked about their experiences as athletes, to gain an understanding of the challenges they face and to identify opportunities to intervene to create gender equity in athletics.

Key findings from the survey:

Female Professional Athletes Face Many Challenges

The higher the level of play, the more reported challenges faced by female athletes.

Female Athletes Want To Be Treated the Same As Male Athletes

The majority of female athletes (at all levels) say that they experience more hardships/challenges than male athletes — 58% of high school athletes, 73% of college athletes, and 93% of professional/semi-pro female athletes.

Female Athletes Are Role Models

55% of female athletes in high school and college said that they were inspired by male athletes, but 75% said that they were inspired by female athletes.

Female Athletes Inspire

86% of female athletes in high school and college are inspired/excited when they see a female athlete in advertising.

Female Athletes Are Leaders

High school and college athletes describe female athletes as “hard-working” (63%), “role models” (56%), “passionate” (55%), and “confident” (55%). Professional athletes describe female athletes as “competitive” (92%), “confident (92%), “role models” (92%), “leaders” (90%), and “determined” (90%).

Female Athletes Need Support

Nearly all respondents agreed that male athletes, athletic brands, and sports leagues have a responsibility to elevate the visibility of female athletes.

This Geena Davis Institute research was sponsored by P&G and Secret.

IF SHE CAN SEE IT, SHE CAN BE IT