Looking Back on Women in Sport 2019

RTÉ has restated the broadcaster’s commitment to Women’s sport announcing a new measurement tool which will enable greater oversight on the coverage across TV, radio and online.

Speaking at the Sport for Business Women in Sport Conference RTÉ RTÉ Deputy Head of TV Sport Cliona O’Leary said that “we are targeting 20 per cent for TV sport in terms of content, pundits and presenters. We also have a 20 per cent target on female presenters across radio and news programming.”

“The measurement tool is a very important first so we can get an accurate baseline for all of what we do.”

“From there it will become easier, so long as partners come with us on the journey, to really work at reflecting better the diversity of sport that is out there, including for women.”

Hokan Wikstrom, Head of Sports News at Swedish National Broadcaster STV told us how they had raised their own coverage of Women’s sport from 25 per cent to 45 per cent simply by greater awareness that it was being measured and a greater degree of effort in finding the best stories.

“We are doing this because it is the right thing to do” said RTÉ Head of Sport Declan McBennett, “but we cannot do it alone and we need others to come in behind from sporting bodies, other media and the public.”

“Broadcasting from a half-full stadium does not look good regardless of gender and we need to translate good viewing numbers from the Women’s World Cup and the 397,000 that tuned into the Hockey qualifier into a greater groundswell.”

The event opened up with Vodafone CEO Anne O’Leary and Olympic Federation of Ireland President Sarah Keane talking of the resilience needed in order to stand out as Women leaders in what were traditionally men’s worlds.

Advances in rugby’s attitude towards, and commitment to the Women’s game, will doubtless have been helped by O’Leary telling officials in a meeting two years ago that this was important and that as the Union’s main commercial partner that there was an expectation to do more.

Both women spoke of having to be brave in their decision making but being confident in their determination to do the right thing for the organisations and having a special emphasis on gender because that was good in the wider context.

Outgoing ILGU CEO Sinéad Heraty told of the way in which the men’s and women’s game in golf had come together over the last number of years ahead of the birth of Golf Ireland, creating a playbook on how others might do it as well.

Disability activist Joanne O’Riordan also spoke of resilience and offered advice to young teenage girls to be themselves and believe in themselves, that anything was possible if they put their minds to it. When quizzed by host Rob Hartnett as to whether the problems of gender equality were ‘first world problems’ compared to being born with no limbs she responded that “everybody’s individual challenge was the most important thing to them.”

Nora Stapleton from Sport Ireland and Sarah Colgan, co-creator of the 20X20 movement spoke of the short and the long term benefits of effective working together across sport, business and Government.

The day rounded out with Boxing World Champion Kellie Harrington, Irish Women’s Hockey Captain Katie Mullan and Olympian turned Sports Psychologist Jessie Barr talking about their individual journeys. Harrington revealed the doubts that assailed her earlier this year when blighted by a double injury and Mullan about the pressures on the team to qualify for the Olympics being far greater than they were exposed to in reaching the World Cup Final last summer.

Here are some of the images and social media commentary from the day


Image credits, Bryan Keane, Inpho.ie

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