You would think, in this day and age, that existing stereotypes surrounding women and sports would be banished into the locker room where they belong. We all know that women are just as capable of excelling in sports as men. In fact, sometimes women put men’s efforts to shame. The problem is that some people still don’t realize this and the same opinions rear their ugly heads every time a women’s game or match is broadcasted.

So, what can women do to beat gender stereotypes in sports once and for all?

The issue of gender stereotyping in sports

Gender stereotypes exist in just about every area of life, from the outdated view that women should remain in the kitchen, to the notion that women are also pretty awful at driving. These opinions are often as ridiculous as the people who spout them. That being said, it is also up to women to stand up for themselves. The sad fact is that stereotypes reflect attitudes of society and aren’t always created by the media to stir things up … although the media rarely misses the opportunity. Sports continue to be, for the most part, a male-dominated world, and it is up to women to ensure that men realize they’re are as much a part of that scene as men are. For example, let’s take the types of sports in which gender stereotyping is most prevalent. Football, soccer, basketball, baseball and wrestling are all renowned for the men who participate, while women’s teams are rarely afforded the same spotlight. Could it be that men are actually afraid of women being as good, if not better, at something that’s always belonged (in theory) to them? It is, after all, so much easier to put somebody down, or attempt to intimidate them, than it is to admit they’re not half bad.

Overcoming gender stereotyping — it’s time to take a stand

There is an unfortunate, prevailing opinion that women’s sports are less entertaining than men’s or that female teams are inferior to their male counterparts. Sports channels are dominated by coverage of the men’s World Cup, big football tournaments and baseball games played by men. The fact is, though, that there aren’t even really things such as “men’s sports” and “women’s sports.” They’re all just sports that can be played by anyone who wishes to take part. While women are traditionally encouraged towards athletic pursuits such as swimming, gymnastics and horseback riding, it’s about time women showed that they are just as capable as men at kicking around a soccer ball or batting a home run outside the fence. There are women’s teams for just about any sport imaginable, as well as those that take mixed-sex participants.

Luckily, as much as it has been a purveyor of gender stereotypes in the past, the media is also helping to dispel sporting myths once and for all. This year’s women’s World Cup has been covered like never before, and EA Sports, the makers of FIFA 2016, have finally included female players in its lineups. Meanwhile, social media is giving female athletes a voice that’s louder than ever before, and the argument of women not being strong enough to participate in “male sports” is being squashed by specialist equipment, such as back braces for women, that enhance your performance on the field. Take that, gender stereotypes!

The fact that gender stereotypes still exist in sports in the 21st century is a tragic one. When will people wake up to the idea that women are just as capable as men at pushing themselves faster, further and higher? Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to put the naysayers in their place, namely, proving that you have what it takes and demonstrating those kick-ass skills out on the field. The explosion of campaigns on social media, which are designed to quell stereotypes, have helped the cause immensely. While the media’s slow, but steady, inclusion of women’s sports is also starting to change attitudes.

It’s now up to everyone to prove that they have what it takes. Get out there and show them what you’re made of!