Fight for respect is the hardest one, says Katie
Published 27/01/2011 | 05:00
Female athletes are continuously faced with sexism in sport and never receive the respect they deserve, according to world champion boxer Katie Taylor.
The Olympic hopeful from Bray, Co Wicklow, who has won three world lightweight titles, said women in sport had to battle for recognition.
Speaking in the wake of the Andy Gray/Richard Keys controversy, she said: "Being a female in any sport, whether you are a referee or an athlete, you are always going to be faced with sexism."
The 24-year-old boxer has entered the annals of Irish boxing history following her three title wins and is now tipped for gold in the 2012 Olympics in London.
However, despite this success, she said antiquated sexist attitudes in sport persisted and female athletes did not receive the level of respect that was afforded to their male colleagues.
"Men are always going to have opinions. It is a man's world at the end of the day, especially in sport. It is so male-dominated.
"I saw sexism when I started but not at this stage. But there are people now who still don't give me the respect I deserve and it is always harder for female athletes to get the recognition they deserve for whatever reason."
Her comments came as Ireland's leading female referees dismissed the notion that they were no match for their male colleagues.
Ireland's first female UEFA observer Hilda McDermott is now hoping for a major boost in the number of women coming up through the refereeing ranks.
The Dubliner, who is a member of the FAI's referees' committee, retired from refereeing more than a year ago and has only recently being appointed an observer by UEFA to assess up-and-coming new female referees throughout Europe. "There is always banter from the sidelines and among the players, whether it's a man or woman refereeing. If you're a woman, they just call you a different name," she joked.
She said the Andy Gray controversy might raise awareness about the role women can play in the sport, and this could spur more into joining up as referees. "This is not about gender. That girl (Sian Massey) didn't just arrive in the Premiership. She had to pass a lot of exams."
Rhona Daly, who has been refereeing for more than 11 years, is just one of three women who are currently officiating at the highest level in the Irish game.
"If you're not up to the standard you don't get appointed to these high-profile games. It's all down to ability rather than gender."
She described Gray's remarks about Massey as "very old fashioned".
"I think Sian is an extremely qualified ref who has worked very hard to get where she is. She has proved to be a very capable, so gender shouldn't come into it."
Thriving in a man's world