When it comes to television, channels such as the BBC and Sky News have made significant strides in recent years, with far more female faces featuring in their sports coverage.
At the BBC, Clare Balding has established as one of the iconic faces to report on horse racing and rugby league for the BBC, as well as covering Winter Games, Paralympic Games and Commonwealth Games.
Sonja McLaughlan is another BBC face to carve out a successful career for herself in a traditionally testosterone-dominated sport rugby union. Her role as one of the BBC’s key rugby reporters has seen her interview some of the most famous names in world rugby at several Six Nations tournaments.
Even flagship football programme Match of the Day, a show which had never had a woman grace its broadcasts, opened its doors to female commentators in 2007 with the arrival of Jacqui Oatley. Her debut reporting stint on the programme certainly provoked online controversy at having a female voiceover to football highlights.‘Perhaps a woman’s voice clashes with the roar of the crowd, particularly in exciting moments, complained one viewer. It pierces and spoils, when a commentator should compliment what’s on the field.‘
At Sky News, meanwhile, Jacquie Beltrao presents the sports news alongside a host of male colleagues, whilst Orla Chennaoui is heading up the channel’s Olympic coverage as an Olympic Correspondent.
However, as freelance sports broadcast journalist Natalie Osborne points out, some women feel they need to change their reporting styles to try and find in with what they perceive to be the ‘Females who attempt to enter broadcast journalism, be it on TV or radio, do tend to sound like a lad to fit in rather than just being natural,’ she suggests.
‘I enjoy rugby and I want people to enjoy the work I produce but I will not try and pretend to be anything other than what I am. People either like the way I present sport or not I will not make myself sound like a lad just to fit in’.
There may also be some resentment against women trying to enter the industry on account of a lack of experience as a professional athlete.
‘I hear a lot of muttering where the general consensus is that if you have not played the sport to a professional level then you should not be talking about it,’ says Osborne. ‘Female sports are still not being taken seriously so why should female sports journalists?’