Breaking down barriers for women to engage in sports traditionally associated with men – A great role model for women everywhere
Katie Taylor is from Ireland, and is mostly known for her boxing skills. But she has also achieved considerable success playing football, also having represented her country playing with the national teams, at the U-17 and U-19 age levels.
However, it is within the boxing world where Katie has come to contribute so much to women everywhere as a fine role model. As a female boxer Katie has consistently had to defend her talents and abilities as being equal to men. In addition she has also come up against public concern at the involvement of a woman in such a typically masculine sport. Katie has challenged traditional gender roles by being a talented fighter and sportsperson, as well as illustrating that women can be competitive and strong, traits traditionally associated with men. Taylor has become an inspiring ambassador for women’s boxing in Ireland while also acting as a spokesperson on the issue of gender inequality in boxing, speaking out against the inability of women to compete in Olympic boxing. She is a strong advocate of gender equality in boxing and is hoping for the inclusion of women’s boxing in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Katie’s modest yet brave demeanour and her charisma has gained her respect from all sections of the community. In Ireland, she is considered a national treasure and a role model for all young sports people but especially for young women and most especially for young women in what are perceived to be non-traditional female sports. Her wins have been wins not just for her country but also for young sportswomen everywhere. Many young women in Ireland will say they took up sport because they were inspired by Katie Taylor.
Given that sports plays such an integral part in the lives of communities and nations all over the world, equality of opportunity between women and men to participate in sports is vital. Gender stereotypes in sports are strongly entrenched in all sorts of ways, and most strongly in what are perceived to be non-traditional sports, for one gender or the other. Katie had made huge in-roads in breaking down gender stereotypes in the field of boxing for women, which has had a significant knock-on effect in other sports.
- Sport Media and Stereotypes: Austria, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania and Norway have taken part in a cross-European research project initiative, “Sport media and stereotypes—women and men in sport and media”, to explore similarities and variations in representations of women and men in sport. The initiative aims to promote change in gender stereotypes in sport by raising awareness among influential target groups about the impact of representation of male and female athletes, particularly in the media, and how it creates and maintains traditional images of women and men. [Source: The 2005 United Nations International Year of Sport and Physical Education: Austrian Projects.
- Supporting Women’s Professional Development in Sport: The International Olympic Committee (IOC), in cooperation with Olympic Solidarity, established a programme of regional seminars for female administrators, coaches, technical officials and journalists in the national and international sport movement. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has also been active in promoting women’s employment in the sport sector. It adopted women in sport as the theme for its 2006 celebrations for International Women’s Day and held a panel discussion to explore gender equality issues in the sport employment sector. [Source: Support Activities. Official website of the Olympic Movement.]
- Targets for Women’s Participation in Sport Decision-making: Progress in women’s leadership at the International Olympic Committee was seen in 1997 when Anita DeFrantz became the first female vice-president of the IOC Executive Committee and Nawal El Moutawakel, appointed as Minister of Sport and Youth in Morocco that same year, became the first Muslim woman ever elected as a member of the IOC. [Source: Promotion of women sports leaders (2007). Official website of the Olympic Movement.
- Promoting Women’s Participation in the Paralympic Games: The International Paralympic Committee’s Sport Technical Department promoted women’s participation in the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney focusing on women in the allocation of sport wildcards, adding more events and disciplines for women, and raising awareness of issues related to women and sport among the leadership of national Paralympic committees. [Source: International Paralympic Committee (2006). IPC women in sport leadership toolkit: Increasing opportunities for women in Paralympic sport. Bonn, Germany: IPC.