Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University

Research on Gender & Sport Media by Michela Musto, PhD in Sociology

Michela Musto’s previous research examines how gender inequality operates within sport media

Sport Media

Gender in Televised Sports

In two co-authored publications, I analyze twenty-five years of longitudinal data on media representations of women athletes.

One of these articles, published in Gender & Society, introduces the concept of “gender bland sexism,” a contemporary form of sexism legitimizing gender inequality in sport. Over the past twenty-five years, coverage of women’s sports has shifted from overtly denigrating to lackluster, thus demonstrating how sexism in sports media operates in a covert manner than before. 

The second article, published in Communication & Sport, examines how televised coverage of women’s sport has changed over time. The quantity of coverage of women’s sports in televised sports news and highlights shows remains dismally low, despite girls' and women's increased sports participation over the past twenty-five years. Yet our longitudinal also reveal some qualitative changes, including a decline in the once-common tendencies to present women athletes as sexualized objects of humor or in their roles as mothers.  

Strike a Pose!

How do sport settings shape women athletes’ gendered embodiments? This co-authored project, published in Sociology of Sport Journal, answers this question by conducting a quantitative content analysis of a stratified, random sample of 4,799 collegiate women athletes’ roster photos. Despite important contextual variation, we found overwhelming homogeneity in women's appearance across settings, thus demonstrating how collegiate women athletes’ hairstyles normalize whiteness, conventional femininity, and heterosexuality in sport.