Lithuanian media’s views on gender equality: qualitative and quantitative analysis

According to the results of “Kantar” survey commissioned by the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee, in Lithuanian media women’s sport receives several times less coverage than men’s sport. During the period of January to December, 2019, the number of publications focusing entirely on men’s sport was 3.3 times larger than that of women’s sport. These numbers were received as a result of the analysis of 10 Olympic summer sports, excluding basketball.

Men’s sport was also highly dominant in front pages of newspapers, TV sports news highlights, and in overall sense.

“A lot more publications are focusing entirely on men’s sport. The biggest gap is in football: men’s football had been covered 10 times more than that of women’s, men’s swimming – 4.5 times more. Only women’s cycling is covered about 28 % more”, said Linas Spėčius, Head of communication analysis at “Kantar”.

Disproportion of achievements and attention

According to the President of the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee Daina Gudzinevičiūtė, the results of the study revealed an unpleasant tendency. She says that the curve of gender equality in sport in Lithuania is rising, but for true equality to be achieved a lot of hard and consistent work awaits.

“We expected a gap in coverage of men’s and women’s Olympic sports, but in some cases it differs 5-10 times. This is disappointing. If men’s basketball was included, the numbers would have been incomparable at all. In 30 years of Lithuania’s independence, Lithuanian athletes won 25 Olympic medals, 9 of them were won by women. Of Lithuania’s 6 gold medals 3 were won by female athletes. Last year 2 of 3 medals of the European Games were won by Simona Krupeckaitė and Miglė Marozaitė. From this I draw the conclusion that there is no such gap in achievements by gender as there is in their coverage”, said the LNOC President.

She also said that the in response to this situation the LNOC had prepared a list of recommendations for Lithuanian sports media. The LNOC’s representatives introduced it during the project’s final event “Towards gender equality hand in hand with the media” and later sent it to heads of all major media outlets and chief editors of sport editorial offices.

Prevalence of track and field athletics in women’s sport representations

Analysis by sport types shows that women’s track and field athletics received the most coverage among women’s sport types, followed by women’s swimming and cycling. However, even the most mentioned women’s track and field athletics is 3 times behind the leading men’s sports: tennis, football, and swimming. Also, the coverage of track and field athletics also has the smallest gap between men and women, with men having been mentioned by 7% more.

In total, over 2.4 thousand mentions exclusively on women’s sport were found in the analyzed media, while the number of exclusive mentions on men’s sport was 3.3 larger (over 8 thousand mentions). Another 3.7 thousand mentions concerned both men’s and women’s sport.

Women mentioned 6 times less in TV news features

Individual sports were discussed by the media more often than team sports, the former having been mentioned 1.8 times more often.

“Here the gap is also obvious: women’s team sports were mentioned 4.5 times less often, and individual – 3 times less often than those of men. Overall, publications dedicated exclusively to men’s sports accounted for 57% of all publications, while in lead positions of TV news, women’s achievements were reported 6 times less often than men’s”, said L. Spėčius.

When viewed by channels, the smallest gap – 2.6 times – in reviewing men’s and women’s sports was recorded in the press. There were 3.5 times more publications on men’s sports on the Internet and almost 3.8 times more on television.

Depends on the author

It was observed that female authors write relatively more about women’s sports: one-fifth (21%) of all sports publications by female authors were devoted to women’s sports, while men devoted about 16% of their publications to women’s sports.

“Female sports journalists feel that less attention is paid to women’s sports and achievements than to those of men, therefore, there is a kind of solidarity in their approach to work. However, internal rules and the pursuit for clicks and ratings still matter a lot here”, said D. Gudzinevičiūtė.

The reasons range from stereotypes to traditions

According to the LNOC President, this gap in the coverage of men’s and women’s sports is determined by complex reasons.

“The media reflects the society, it has the same challenges, the same stereotypes: men can play sports, and for women it is enough to be beautiful and spend time at home or in the world of art and entertainment. This attitude means that fewer women than men turn to professional sports and that men like watching sports more than women. The second thing is that men hold many of the most important positions in sport. The third aspect is that our country’s sports journalism is dominated by male journalists – here the ratio of men to women is about 8 to 1”, concluded the head of the LNOC.

“Kantar” conducted the study of gender equality in sport in the media in March, 2020, by analyzing sports publications published on Internet portals in 2019; press and television monitoring covered the period of June – December of last year, and radio monitoring – the period of June – July. In total, over 14 thousand last year’s media publications and reports on 10 Olympic summer sports were analyzed. Men’s basketball as the dominant sport, occupying the absolute majority of mentions in sports publications, was not included in the media analysis.

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