‘We’re here because we’ve earned it’ – On International Women’s Day, Laura Woods, Natalie Sawyer, Faye Carruthers and Lianne Sanderson open up about the stereotypes and challenges facing being to be a woman in the broadcasting industry


Today is International Women’s Day, and talkSPORT really wants to understand what this year’s theme – #BreakTheBias – meant for women in the sports industry.

The station’s presenters spoke about the challenges they face in broadcasting in honor of the annual celebration and expressed their hopes for the women following in their footsteps.

Woods and Sawyer are just two of the talkSPORT women leading the way for women in sports broadcasting
TALKSPORT

Like many other talented women in the industry, they face discrimination, stereotypes and prejudice on a daily basis, and at times they can feel like they are fighting a losing battle.

The experiences of Laura Woods, Natalie Sawyer, Lianne Sanderson and Faye Carruthers demonstrate that even those who reach the top of their game still face obstacles, brought about solely because of their gender.

“Imagine working in an environment where you constantly have to prove yourself,” Sawyer said.

“Or constantly having to deny the stereotype that you are a presenter because you tick a box.


'We're here because we've earned it' - On International Women's Day, Laura Woods, Natalie Sawyer, Faye Carruthers and Lianne Sanderson open up about the stereotypes and challenges facing being to be a woman in the broadcasting industry
Sawyer has been brilliant as the new host of this season’s Weekend Sports Breakfast
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“I don’t think the road has been easy for a lot of women in this industry. I think we all have to prove ourselves.

“We all had to prove that we are not here to play the role. We are here because we deserve it.

“#BreakTheBias is important because it’s a chance to shine a light on the constant validation women have to go through just to work in an industry we all love.”

Meanwhile, Woods described one of the many experiences of misogyny she has faced during her career, explaining a criticism she received from a male reporter in a national newspaper after presenting her second game of the FA Cup.

“He said he turned on the FA Cup and mistook it for an episode of Love Island because the presenter could have been a contestant,” Woods explained.

“He didn’t know if I was checking my nails or checking my grades.

'We're here because we've earned it' - On International Women's Day, Laura Woods, Natalie Sawyer, Faye Carruthers and Lianne Sanderson open up about the stereotypes and challenges facing being to be a woman in the broadcasting industry
Woods was recently named Sports Presenter of the Year for the second year in a row.
GETTY

“I wish I could walk into a newsroom or do my show without any preconceived judgments. Or that I can have an opinion and not be ridiculed because it has to do with being a woman.

“I think #BreakTheBias for me is just about letting everyone go about their business and not being criticized for really superficial things. Visual things, like your appearance, gender, skin color, anything like that.

When asked what advice she would give to girls who hope to one day work in sports media and fear the abuse they might receive for being women, Woods replied that she would say what she would like to say to his young person.

“I look back at my little self, the different stages of my life… My advice to any young woman looking to get into the world of sport, in particular, is to really challenge yourself.

“Truly believe that what interests you is enough, and everything else you can learn. I remember being very down on myself, your inner voice is the most critical voice you will ever hear.

“What is the worst that can happen? Yeah, there are a few guys around, but they’re probably looking at you and thinking, “Whew, I’m intimidated by her.” What does she know? I’m going to have to work alongside her, what if she knows more than me? »

Compared to ten years ago, the representation of women in sports programming has made huge progress, but there is still much to be done.

'We're here because we've earned it' - On International Women's Day, Laura Woods, Natalie Sawyer, Faye Carruthers and Lianne Sanderson open up about the stereotypes and challenges facing being to be a woman in the broadcasting industry
Leeds United are one of the latest Premier League clubs to start working with Her Game Too
GETTY

Her Game Too is a campaign that has helped mobilize the normalization of female voices in football in particular and facilitate change – a fan-led campaign to eliminate gender abuse from football.

It’s only been around for just under a year, but has already partnered with over 100 football clubs and has 20.9,000 Twitter followers – including Sawyer and Woods – and provided a much-needed voice for women of the game who have already had to suffer in silence.

Her Game Too co-founder and Swansea City fan Amy Clement told talkSPORT’s Mya Graham: “Her Game Too is an anti-sexism campaign which aims to raise awareness of sexism and misogyny in football, while by partnering with clubs, organisations, bodies to change and make football a more welcoming and welcoming environment for women.

Former England international Lianne Sanderson also acknowledged this increase in support and awareness from her childhood, and said it helped her transition from player to expert.

“Luckily there’s more support now,” she said. “People are more aware of it. The business owners [I work for] normally call me if something happens and say “Are you okay?” and that really helps.

“There still needs to be more support in and around others, and I think sometimes it’s easy for people to say they’re fine, but not fine. I think there should be people in companies who monitor what people write to people [on social media].

“I’ve been with Anton Ferdinand to Parliament several times to talk about trolling. I think people are getting used to seeing women on TV now, which is good because they realize we’re not going to nowhere.

“For me, I never want to be chosen because I am a woman, because I am mixed race and because I am gay. I want to be chosen because I am good.

talkSPORT’s Faye Carruthers also echoed that the support has certainly improved, but there’s still a long way to go.

“Unfortunately, there are still some very lazy stereotypes. We’ve come a long way. I think the biggest change we need to be able to see is from the top down.

“There is a lot of visibility in terms of on-air presenters, but in leadership positions there needs to be more women and there needs to be a lot more understanding as well.

“I think that’s something that talkSPORT does now very well, whereas in the past they haven’t, is that they recognize that everyone should have a voice.”

Despite all the adversity, Carruthers echoed what all the other female talkSPORT experts said they would give as advice to women entering the industry.

“Do it. It’s the best job in the world and you will be supported. There are so many amazing women working in this industry who will be there to help you.

International Women’s Day will remind us that the women you see on TV and hear on the radio richly deserve their place in sports newsrooms.

And we’re just getting started.




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