The role of women in sport has drastically changed over the years, and we can finally begin to see a shift in emphasis. From female sport presenters, accessible coverage of women’s sport, to encouragement of participation in school. A change that was needed. However, it wasn’t always like this. We spoke to Claire Taylor on her journey through sport to becoming a leading producer at the England and Wales Cricket Board…
261. Does this number mean anything to you? Nowadays, it is common to see people of all genders take part in some of the biggest global events. However, this wasn’t always as simple. Back in 1967, Kathrine Switzer made history by challenging the ban that prevented women competing. She recalls an experience at the Boston Marathon where an event organiser ripped her bib number off her. The number? 261. Ever since then, it has been the symbol of equality in women’s sport. Now reviewing 2020, it leads us to think, with a rise in digital media and emphasis on equality across all industries, what it is now like for women in sport.
This is where we spoke with Bournemouth-based Claire Taylor, a producer at England and Wales Cricket Board. Women in sport was clearly a subject she was very passionate about, after struggling to adapt with the so-called stereotypes in school.
“What I wanted more than anything was to be able to participate in football, rugby, and so on. But due to the social groups and being a girl, it was much more focused on fashion, boys and parties”.
Claire also mentioned, when at school, even PE classes were very traditional. To such an extent that the sports they were deemed to be ‘allowed’ to play, had a clear gender vocal point:
“We used to play hockey, badminton, volleyball… Not bad sports in any way, but the opportunity to play football or rugby, was very far and few between. Of course, it’s a difficult balance for education institutes, as you’ll get those who want to play sport and those that don’t. Looking back, it was a difficult situation”.
Entering the Sport Industry
Despite this, Claire never lost her passion for sport. She gives special mention to her parents for constantly supporting her ambition and “driving her here, there and everywhere”. This dedication to sport led to her landing her first job within the industry at Red Bull Media as an Assistant Producer. There, she learned the ropes of scriptwriting, magazine creation and the best way to encourage people to get involved within extreme sports.
A few years later, an opportunity at the England and Wales Cricket Board presented itself. A position where Claire could put what she had learned in her career, as well as growing up, to encourage young girls to participate in sport.
“When I was younger, there wasn’t as much emphasis or media coverage behind female sports stars. It was very male-oriented. However, now you can see a shift in momentum. Young girls can now have their own role models, see a pathway to success, and have an opportunity to participate”.
Of course, Claire acknowledges there is still a long way to go, but she is relishing the opportunity and position she is in to be able to support change:
“If I can inspire at least one girl to follow her dream, then I’ve done my job”.