|Veronica McAllister, co-founder of Women's Sports Chicago (WSC), strives to empower women by bringing them out onto the field. She creates an environment where women of all skill levels can play and compete with other women of similar interests. Photo provided by EUBS.
Breaking past “masculine sport” in Korea
Not providing girls with these skill sets is just another form of gender discrimination. Telling a girl that soccer is a boys’ sport, separating girls by imposing them with gender-typed, traditionally feminine sports, ignorance towards the lack of sports opportunities for women is gender discrimination that will bring major setbacks not just for civil rights but for our democracy at large.
In an article published in The Atlantic, titled “The confidence gap,” authors Claire Shipman and Katty Kay talk about how men excel past women as adults because of their participation in sports as children. According to Shipman and Kay, when boys play sports, they expose themselves to criticism, they call each other idiots while playing with their friends who may be more or less advanced than themselves. During these recesses, boy’s process so many wins and losses, generating persistence, and the ability to shrug a shoulder at the face of failure and jump right back in the game.
Girls, on the other hand, miss out on these organic yet essential learning opportunities. Instead, their education is primarily dictated by the adults in the classroom where academic achievement and courtesy are praised. A girl’s biological ability to concentrate for longer time spans induces positive feedback from adults, reinforcing this type of sedentary behavior. Consequently, girl’s tend to venture into society with higher academics, but lacking in the life skills needed in the bigger world.
To break this happening, McAllister first pointed to the mothers. She believed that when girls are not participating in a sport, it’s not because they do not want to play. It is because somebody told them that it is a masculine sport, and because their mothers did not help them realize that sports is not a masculine activity, but instead a fun game, and a fun way to compete. To change this mentality that exists in women today, McAllister emphasized the importance of educating the mothers.
“The biggest obstacle is women’s mentality, that has been set by their mothers and fathers. Especially the mothers, who are the ones behind the scenes, reinforcing girls perception of sports,” emphasized McAllister. “By changing the mentalities of mothers, it will give little girls the courage to go play with the boys, despite what society is telling them.”
Professor Park agreed on the importance of getting educating the parents, who largely influences a child’s activity during their younger years.
“An additional factor that we have to consider is the education of coaches,” said Professor Park. “A positive sports experience is crucial for future interest and involvement in sports. It is our responsibility to provide these girls with educators who can encourage and engage the children in the activities.”
As for the improvement of sports in adult women, Professor Park considered a different approach. Though positive experiences are also important, as are skilled educators, Professor Park emphasized advocation of the benefits of sports to bring women out on the field. Fact based, or information based advocation would be more effective towards adults, who as Professor Park said, are more considerate when it comes to where they want to spend their time.
“With the government now implementing new legislations and projects to enhance women's sports participation, things are looking better for our country,” said Professor Park, commenting on the outlook of women’s sports in Korea.
Even so, when considering the low levels of gender equality in our country, a couple of government legislations that are funding schools to buy soccer balls and gymnastic mats are not going to solve the problem.
With gender discrimination on the top ranks of the global charts, it is about time we take matters into our own hands.
To conclude this four week Overseas Coverage Special, Ewha Voice urges its female readers to venture out into a new sport, to encourage a sister, friend, a mother to go out and kick a ball. Empowering one woman will empower the next, who may become a role model for the little girl next door. All of us can take part in the advocation of the importance of sports in achieving gender equality.