By Mark Stephens
Sport media is one of the fastest growing and most lucrative industries in North America. Typically a male-dominated profession, women are making strides in the sports industry, pioneering their way and becoming successful in a field that does not always welcome diversity.
But women in sports continue to struggle for equal respect and opportunities. This stark reality is the driving force behind WiSE Talk—a conference organized by Ryerson students for Women in Sports and Entertainment (WiSE).
WiSE Talk—hosted at the Mattamy Athletic Centre this past Saturday—was founded to encourage young women to become involved in sport media. It was created by RTA media production students Mackenzie Duffy, Nicholas Wong, Aaron Stern, Selina Da Silva, Brendan Sylvia, Matt Kelly and Vladlena Androsenko as part of their fourth-year thesis project.
“Many people think of women as just the face, the host, the sidelines reporter, when there are so many more roles they can have,” said Duffy.
WiSE Talk featured two keynote speakers, a panel of professional women in the industry and a series of technical workshops aimed to teach women about the field. The guests provided a positive but realistic outlook on the current state of the industry. Perseverance, grit, thick skin and wit were all words used to describe the character needed to succeed in sports media as a woman.
“The more women that can get into it [Sports media], in different fields, future generations will look at it and say ‘who cares that I’m a female, I can do it just the same’,” said Meghan McPeak, a play-by-play announcer for Raptors 905—the Toronto Raptors development league team.
Having been through four years of the media production program, Duffy has seen her share of unequal treatment towards women in her field.
“When it comes to producing roles, a lot of men think that it’s not for women, and women in our program can’t do it,” she said. Duffy has continually tried challenged notions of female inferiority in the sport industry, culminating in creating WiSE Talk.
“Having a female perspective adds a different layer to the storytelling that is sports media,” said Nadia Flaim, the marketing communications director for CBC Sports.
Whether or not there will be more WiSE Talk events in the future is uncertain, but the inaugural conference appears to have been well-received.
“It feels very empowering and motivating to see the perspective of women in the field who are successful and from different backgrounds,” said journalism graduate student Joti Grewal.