Snapshot Analysis:

Social media commentary of sportswomen and sportsmen

Sportswomen face a tirade of sexist and belittling comments on social media, which negatively impacts girls and young women in the broader community who see the abuse, according to new research conducted by leading girls’ rights agency Plan International.

The snapshot analysis of social media commentary found that more than a quarter of all comments towards sportswomen were sexist, sexualised, belittled women’s sports or were otherwise negative in nature. 

The analysis looked at a selection of social media commentary on Facebook posts shared by major sports news broadcasters in Australia in the past 12 months, and found:

  • Sportswomen face three times as many negative comments as men, at 27% compared to 9%
  • Social media abuse of sportswomen is overwhelmingly sexist – 23% of all negative comments towards sportswomen were sexist in nature, referring to traditional gender stereotypes, while 20% belittled women’s sports, their athletic abilities and skills.
  • Sexualised comments are only aimed at sportswomen – 14% of all negative comments towards sportswomen were sexualised, compared to 0% for male athletes.
  • Whilst the majority of negative comments towards men focused on cheating or drugs, some sportsmen were also subjected to sexist abuse towards men: 15% of negative comments towards men referred to traditional gender stereotypes, which deem that they must not display weakness or emotion.


Download the full report



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