I came across a recent study that really underlined what I’ve said often about why girls aren’t in sport: Because we don’t see ourselves in it. And for those of us in school, where’s one major place we see our talents and our highlights? In our school yearbooks, of course!
A study looked at thousands of yearbooks, assessing the difference in the ways girls and boys sports teams were represented. Their findings showed that:
In solo photos, boys were more likely to be in uniform than girls. In group sport shots, boys were more likely to be photographed in action, on the court / field, and in uniform more often than girls.
The researchers concluded that generally, male athletes were more commonly presented as “competent athletes” in the yearbook, compared to the female athletes.
Obviously, this sucks. And it’s certainly not your job as an athletic girl to instantly volunteer your time on your school yearbook committee, unless you’re into that. But you can voice your opinion to your yearbook, look back at past years and let them know what you’d like to see more of, and heck, now that we have smartphones with awesome cameras, simply ask your coach or teammates to start taking more photos to submit.
(PS: Most yearbooks will happily include photos from sports teams that aren’t strictly high school related in their candid section, so if you’re on a NICA team that isn’t attached to your school, you can still submit photos of you with other classmates having fun on bikes!)
The more we see girls portrayed in the media, from the New York Times all the way to your elementary school yearbook, the more girls will feel like sports are welcoming. So let’s do it!