Fighting to break the proverbial glass ceiling in sports journalism

ERIN MADDEN
SPORTS EDITOR

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I have a passion for sports journalism. I have been writing sports stories for The Troubadour and the athletic department for a year and a half now. I’ve been to five Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference tournaments and three NCAA tournaments with some of the best athletes on our campus. Heck, I even wrote my senior thesis on the impact that social media has on sports journalism.

So it makes sense that, after graduation, I would like to pursue a career in sports journalism. But what are the odds that I will land a sports journalism job straight out of college? From what I’ve heard, the odds are slim to none.

I have a long road ahead of me. You know what will make my road that much more difficult? The fact that I’m a woman.

Let me give you a few statistics. The Women’s Media Center released a document in 2014 that showed just how disparate the gender ratio is. Out of the total sports staff at The Associated Press, only 14.6 percent are female. Female sports editors make up 9.6 percent of the staff while 17.2 percent work as assistant sports editors. More women work as columnists (11.7 percent) than sports editors and the most women overall (19.6 percent) work as copy editors or designers.

So basically, what I am saying is that it would be a miracle if I ever got a job in sports journalism. But that’s not going to stop me from trying.

Once I get into the field, however, I will be presented with so many more challenges.

Traditionally, the entire sports realm has been male-dominated. As I have just proven to you, the sports journalism field is no exception. Granted, there are far more female sports journalists now compared to 20 years ago and more women will continue to break into the field as the years move on.

Social media has only aided the continued push toward male dominance by providing transparency to its users, who might not make crass comments otherwise if their names were attached to what they were posting.

In “Threats. Vitriol. Hate. Ugly truth about women in sports and social media,” a Sports Illustrated piece written by CBSChicago.com columnist Julie DiCaro, she speaks out about the harsh treatment she has personally received via social media.

“Those of us who dare invade this mostly male space are generally accepted, but there remains a vocal minority committed to forcing women out and rolling things out to the good ol’ days when women talked about recipes and PTA meetings and shoes,” DiCaro said.

DiCaro believes that there is a time in the future when women will be welcomed into conversations about sports and seen as authority figures rather than just being simply shunned and ridiculed.

“There’s no reason that I – and the thousands of other women in the field – should have to tolerate things online that no one would ever accept off it,” said DiCaro.

The treatment that women working in the sports field receive is deplorable. It would also be a miracle if I went through an entire sports journalism career without receiving this kind of treatment. It comes with the territory.

Female sports professionals need to follow DiCaro’s lead and speak out against the “gentlemen’s club” that treats them so poorly. But maybe, just maybe, if the public becomes more aware of the situation, something can be done to put a halt to it.

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