Women kick ass at Olympics, but there's still more ass to be kicked

Reuters writer Belinda Goldsmith had a great roundup yesterday of “The Women’s Games”, which is what many are calling the 2012 Summer Olympics (which — for those of you living under a rock — just wrapped up this past weekend in London). Here’s a quick summary of the important stats, but the whole article is worth a read:


  • For the first time in Olympic history, female athletes competed on all 204 national teams (yay, Islamic nations Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar, finally) and in all 26 sports (go boxers!).
  • Women represented 44% of athletes (up from 42% in Beijing at the last summer Olympics, and only 25% in Barcelona 20 years ago). The Olympic committee goal of participation is 50-50.
  • Women outnumbered men on 3 of the 5 largest teams (U.S., China & Russia).
  • Female athletes in the U.S. and China received more medals than their male teammates. The UK’s gold medal wins were split about 50-50 between female and male athletes.


  • Women competed in 30 fewer events than men.
  • Only 132 gold medals were up for grabs for women, compared with the 162 possible golds for guys.
  • Japanese female soccer players and Australian women’s basketball players were flown in coach to London while their male counterparts got to ride in business class.
  • Sixteen-year-old gold-medal winning U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas was criticized for her “unkempt” hair; 4th-place U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones was accused of using her looks to get more attention than her performance deserved; Twitter trolls attacked British weightlifter Zoe Smith for looking too masculine; and London Mayor Boris Johnson described the “semi-naked women” playing beach volleyball as “glistening like wet otters”.

All of which reminds us of the awesome campaign by The Women’s Sport Foundation launched earlier this summer to help young female athletes reach their potential by keeping them in the game. We’ve come a long way thanks to the passage of Title IX 40 years ago, but we’ve still got a long way to go: Women athletes get only a tiny fraction of media sports coverage and an even tinier slice of commercial sports sponsorships; almost half of teenage girls say they don’t have female sports role models; and by age 14, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys (stats from the Reuters article and the WSF).

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