Give female athletes the media attention they deserve: Quentin Bryce
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Governor-General Quentin Bryce has lamented the lack of media attention on women's sport, saying that girls should be given more exposure to the powerful example of female sporting role-models.
Speaking at the Asia-Pacific World Sport and Women Conference at Melbourne Cricket Ground Monday morning, Bryce said that while the representation of women in sporting decision-making positions is slowly improving, the proportion of media coverage given to women's sport is still poor.
"Women's sport receives 9% of any sports editorial, and 7% of non-news programming," she said.
Bryce said she wants all girls, including her granddaughter, to have sport in their lives at every stage. "But I know that encouragement and support are crucial in her next years; that it costs money and time for parents, that many girls give up sport around their mid-teens, 15 or so."
"I know that role models are powerful. And we have some wonderful stars. Sally Pearson, Wow! I'd like our girls to see more of them: Anna Meares, Lauren Jackson, Liz Cambage, Sherelle McMahon, Stephanie Gilmore, Tora Bright - especially in the media that reaches girls."
She said Australians have long loved hearing about female champions.
"Marlene Matthews, Betty Cuthbert, Marjorie Jackson, Shirley Strickland. They ran like the wind. They soared across the hurdles," she said.
"What perfect role models they were then, and have been all their lives. We were inspired by their stories, their training. We wanted to know everything about them, and we wanted to be like them, to look like them, fit, toned, fabulous legs, strong."
"They were important and influential in our lives – lessons about discipline, self-confidence, vision, sheer hard work, about building and testing character."
Bryce credited the ABC for its long-term and consistent commitment, and said journalist Rebecca Wilson has been a constant supporter of women in sport through her writing and commentary.
The conference aims to raise awareness of the lack of media coverage in women's sport, and acknowledge the implications this has on equality for women in sport. It brings together sporting CEOs, members of sports boards, athletes, sponsors, government administrators and marketing people.
Bryce also discussed the importance of sport for international women in driving success. "The UN has found that girls worldwide who play sport are more likely to attend and stay in school, more likely to finish their education, more likely to be in better health and earn higher wages during the course of their lives," she said.
"Delegates, the issues that you are embarking on, the issues that so many of you have been committed to for so long go to the heart of women's equal participation in society and the value we place on their contribution as a citizen of our country."
The APWSW Conference is a two-day forum on the business of women in sport and continues today.