Data revealing the importance of role models like Alexia Putellas in women’s sports

  • Between 2009 and 2019, female federative licenses increased by 32%, while male licenses increased by only 9%

  • The sports federations with the highest increase in women’s registrations were surfing, paddle tennis and gymnastics, while the sports with the highest registrations were basketball, climbing and golf.

  • Experts believe that the image of athletes has improved in recent years and is on the right track, although there are accounts pending.

Alexia Putellas This week has had several successes: world’s first football player buy two Ballon d’Ors, die first Spanish athlete to achieve this (regardless of gender) and unlocks multiple world covers, once again demonstrating the power of players to set the sports agenda.

80% of Hispanics believe that greater visibility of female role models in sport encourages the participation of women and girls. following his example, the latest eurobarometer in sport. Athletes, coaches, referees and even managers are seen as a guide to be followed. “I remember the situation carolina sea suddenly the girls in my urbanization are wearing rackets. They all wanted to play badminton,” says Clara Sainz de Baranda, professor of Journalism at Carlos III University and director of the Institute for Gender Studies. The involvement of more and more top athletes accomplishes two things. On the one hand, the promotion of women’s sports is traditionally lower than that of men. On the other hand, normalize the figure of the professional athlete.

The data on this is very meaningful: between 2009 and 2019 (before the pandemic), The overall volume of women’s federative licenses in Spain increased by 32%, while men’s licenses increased by only 9%. On the other hand, in the last two years, covidfederates decreased by only 1%, while federates decreased by 10%.

The relevance of athletes such as Lydia Valentín, Maialen Chourraut or Sara Ramírez and the greater acceptance and interest of women in the sport has led to continued growth in all disciplines, including football. “We’ve had many years in a row where female enrollment in the federation hasn’t stopped growing.“, Explain Amanda GutierrezPresident of Futpro, the main union organization for football players in Spain.

The increase in football licenses has been steady since 2009. However, between 2016 and 2017, there was an abnormally high jump in football associations and increased by 37% compared to the previous year. During the same period, Iberdrola acquired the sponsorship rights to the main women’s football competition in Spain —current F league– leads to increased public exposure. “It created a visibility that allowed women’s football to evolve in a way that no one expected in a few years,” says Sainz de Baranda.

Although football is a sport that has seen remarkable growth, it is not the only discipline that has grown over the years: Rugbyracquet tennis, or gymnastics, increased female enrollments between 2009 and 2019. The case of the Surf Federation is the most striking, as there are twenty times more women today than there were fifteen years ago..

“A lot of work has been done on the base and the girls have seen great growth.” Explains Iballa Ruano, a professional surfer with eleven world championships. “The level has increased a lot and there is a lot of participation”. All sources consulted agree on the appropriateness of having a plan that encourages women’s participation. as a tool to communicate women’s participation. “It is very important to have both the support of the brands and a strategic plan from the clubs and strong support from the institutions,” Gutiérrez says.

pending accounts

Clara Sainz de Baranda criticizes that institutions are still far behind their female promotion plans: “I am in the Association of Professional Female Athletes and as far as I can see many federations, instead of distributing proportionately money from licenses, all women’s sports are just High Sports Council Women and Sports, This creates enormous inequality.

Also from Futpro, refereeing, coaching staff or management positions. “I think we continue to suspend. “We need to understand that this gap exists and that we need to join forces to see how we can achieve more female representation on the bench and in decision-making positions in a few years,” says Amanda Gutiérrez.

This means greater investment and equity in the image women and men have in sport. Differences in male and female coverage, both in the media and in advertising and marketing, affect the economic capacity of athletes and thus the remaining areas of sports management. Sara Rojas, founder of WOT, a marketing and communications agency focused on women’s sports, believes the market is still “green” and has a long way to go. “It’s true that brands are increasingly interested in placing bets on themselves. However, we found cases where women’s sports were managed by the Corporate Social Responsibility department and men’s sports were managed by Marketing”, explains the communications specialist. “It is the brands themselves that should bet on them.; not because of their stance, but because they truly believe in the world of women,” she adds.

Clara Sainz de Baranda explains that the differences in visibility between the worlds of men and women affect a wide range of areas, from salaries and finances to the professional career of athletes:The problem with athletes is that they cannot become professionals and have to work for something else.. Often the debate is limited to the fact that women want to win the same thing as this or that athlete. We want to professionalize ourselves. That means getting a salary, working seven hours, having the right to be injured, having a physique, being able to be promoted to the Olympics or travel with the men’s team, no matter what.”

Step taken from the F League represents a major advance for the recognition of women’s sport. “All professional leagues were for men and for the first time we have a women’s league. This gives us a huge responsibility, because if we do things well, we will mark a line of work, a path to follow.”. Iballa Ruano of the Surfing Federation underlines the work carried out through projects with Iberdrola to develop the institution and the sport: “Sport has been instilled in young women to engage them more and move forward from the early years of sport. The Olympic program also greatly facilitated the professionalization of surfing.”

the role of the media

this Olympic Games London 2012 and Rio 2016 had one serious discussion in common: the sexualization of nearly all female athletes Participants in both sporting events. Increasing social awareness, criticism from the feminist movement and the change in news approach have gradually transformed the scope of women’s sports. Different sources consulted believe that progress has been made in recent years, although there are still many fringes that need to be addressed. “It has improved qualitatively because women are already being reported as professional athletes, not because of their image.”, says Sainz de Baranda. “It’s true that more and more editors are being appointed to the women’s sports section in newspapers, which gives more visibility. But there is still a world,” says Sara Rojas.

Amanda Gutiérrez, although a lot more talk about women’s sports, there are still pending accounts. “When last year Alexia wins Ballon d’Oror when women’s football turned professional, all the media were looking at us. But then there was a television blackout that prevented the fans from watching and watching the matches,” says Futpro president. Clara Sainz de Baranda rightly points to schedules as a critical element of the coverage of sporting events: “I cannot compare a tennis match at La 1 at four o’clock on a Sunday to a match at Teledeporte on Saturday. Audiences are not the same.

Sara Rojas, founder of the WOT agency, highlights the Ballon d’Or’s information coverage as an example of inequality. “If a Spanish man had won, it would have been a threesome. It’s true that Alexia gets a lot of visibility, but she’s never gotten as much attention as the success of a male athlete.” Still, the communications expert believes it’s a matter of time and business for the situation to change: “Evolutions happen little by little. You cannot expect something to change immediately. The good thing is that more and more of the media is betting on news about the women’s world.”

The future of the first level

The greater presence of women has led to more and more top-notch role models being at the top. The number of top athletes (DAN) registered by the Ministry of Culture and Sports has increased from 400 in 2005 to over 2,000 in 2021.. The relative weight in total DAN also increased, with women representing 38% of all top athletes.

As a professional surfer, Ibarra Ruano invites all girls and women to get closer to the sport. “I’m proud to contribute a grain of sand and help each year have more girls and more girls to play sports,” she says. And he sends a welcome message to anyone who wants to get started: “On my behalf, I’m always open to teaching anyone who wants to get close to me. Let them ask, because they will be welcome and I will help them as much as I can.”.

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