A recent study shows a stark lack of women in sports visuals
The GIST: A recent study of iStock analytics reveals a stark lack of women in sports visuals, but also found an appetite from consumers to engage with women’s sports. For example, only 9% of iStock’s most downloaded sports visuals depicted women and girls participating in sports. Time to look at this photograph (data).
The company: iStock is a subsidiary of Getty Images that provides premium visual stock photo content. Its clientele includes small to medium business and enterprises, creatives, and students. Leading up to the WWC, iStock released figures and interpretations of its most popularly downloaded sports-related files.
The data: According to iStock’s research, eight in 10 people consider it crucial to cover men’s and women’s sports equally, 72% of respondents agree that sports organizations and all businesses should do more to promote women's teams and their stars, and 75% want to see more authentic portrayals of women athletes.
- This means representation that emphasizes athleticism and skill, rather than beauty and sex appeal. In other words, consumers don’t just care about women athletes because “they’re hot.” Breaking news, we know.
The why: Visual media is essential to capturing viewers’ attention and can both perpetuate and break stereotypes. The inclusion of more stock media showcasing women’s athletic abilities, the realities of women’s sports across all competitive levels, and women as sports fans, ensures women’s sports are more accurately represented. Sorry Lizzo, that truth doesn’t hurt.
- iStock’s paltry 9% figure for its photos mirrors the lack of coverage for women’s sports. According to Togethxr, women’s sports receive less than 10% of sports media coverage, despite making up 44% of participants.
- As women’s sports continue to grow, the media needs to grow with it — including the visual depiction of female athletes. Imagery should be used in more impactful ways and provide an authentic portrayal of the current sports landscape. Representation matters.