Women's Sport and Spectacle: Gendered Television Coverage and the Olympic Games

By Gina Daddario | Go to book overview

3
"Chilly Scenes" of the 1992 Winter wGames

Although women have been participating in Olympic Games since as early as 1900, when twelve women competed in tennis and golf events, they make up only about 20 percent of all modern-day Olympic participants. These figures have remained constant over the last several decades, with even a slight decrease in female participation between the 1960 and 1980 Winter Games. Not only do male athletes compete in far greater numbers than female athletes, they compete in over twice as many events. In the 1992 Barcelona Games, there were 159 all-male events compared to 86 all-female events (Media Department, United States Olympic Committee, personal communication, April 7,1994).

However, despite their underrepresentation, female Olympians sometimes win more than their relative shares of gold, silver, and bronze medals. For example, female athletes from the Soviet Union and East Germany won more than half of their teams' medals in the 1976 Olympics ( Riordan, 1985). More recently, all five gold medals awarded to the United States in the 1992 Winter Games were won by women. They include double-medalist Bonnie Blair for speed skating, Kristi Yamaguchi for figure skating, Donna Weinbrecht for mogul skiing, and Cathleen Turner for short-track speed skating.

The American women's sweep of the Winter Games gold medals gives the appearance of sexual equality in Olympic competi

-57-

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