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Another step towards gender equality: a call for ending structural sexism in the scheduling of sports events
  1. Klaus Gebel1,2,
  2. Nanette Mutrie3,
  3. Ding Ding2
  1. 1 School of Public Health, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 Sydney School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3 Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Klaus Gebel, School of Public Health, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, New South Wales, 2007, Australia; klaus.gebel{at}

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Gender equality is a critical global issue, and one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Despite progress in many countries, challenges remain. For instance, women are under-represented in education, labour force participation, leadership positions at all levels and often paid less for the same work.1 This reinforces the reality of women being treated as ‘second-class citizens’.2

In sports, substantial progress has been made in gender equality. For instance, while women were not allowed to compete in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, the proportion of female athletes at the Olympics gradually increased to reach an unprecedented 49% at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Over the last few decades, some sports and disciplines which were traditionally ‘men only’, such as football, marathon and pole vault, were opened to women. In tennis, the 1973 US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament that introduced equal prize money for women and men—the other three Grand Slam tournaments followed in the 2000s. Recently, several soccer federations introduced equal pay for their men’s and women’s national teams.

However, around the world, female athletes are still fighting for equality in various aspects of sport. Structural barriers are ubiquitous, such as sexist uniform mandates, rules that force …

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  • Twitter @nanettemutrie, @DrMelodyDing

  • Contributors KG and DD conceptualised and wrote the editorial; all authors provided critical input during the writing and revision of the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.