The Park School of Communications introduced a new course this semester to highlight women in sports media.
The sports media program presented the option Women’s Sports Media Incubator, which is taught by Ellen Staurowsky, professor in the Department of Arts, Science and Media Studies. Staurowsky, who published the book “Women and sport: pursuing a journey of liberation and celebration” in 2016, was recently brought down as a professor in college in 2020. The class focuses on a one-semester research project related to the history and current affairs of women in sport.
She was first approached by Mead Loop, a professor in the Department of Journalism and director of the sports media program, to create this course after returning to college, but Staurowsky said she had had the idea for a long time.
“As soon as he offered this invitation, the glass in my head clicked almost immediately,” Staurowsky said. “I really felt it was a service for our students to engage them in this very live conversation, what’s going on right now, that we had to graduate our students with a much more nuanced appreciation. “
This need for this course was centered on the conclusions of a Nielsen 2019 report, Staurowsky said. According to the study, the demand for more women in sports has recently increased.
“There is a very conscious decision to bridge the gap between what companies see in women’s sport as an asset and what the real value of women’s sport is,” Staurowsky said. “What is starting to happen is that we are starting to see this gap narrowing more and more, which translates into more sponsors for women’s sport, more talk about raising the level of coverage, both in terms of percentage and quality. “
Staurowsky said she wanted her students to be able to refine their topics for the research project during the course of the course. The students of the course have just started the research process through choose their teams and their subjects. Some of these topics include the sexualization of women in sport, inclusion of transgender and LGBTQ athletes in sports media, policing of women’s sports, and the wage gap in women’s sports media. The goal is to eventually come to a conclusion on how to create change in the sports media industry.
“This is the first time we’ve done this, there’s a little bit of flight through the seat of our pants, because we’re catching a wave right now,” Staurowsky said. “We are tracing the path as we go. I really try to build a relationship between the industry and what we do so that we are actually working on live projects for clients in the industry. “
Loop said he was optimistic about the length of the course–long-term outlook, as it filled up quickly when signing up.
“We know where the growth of sports media is,” Loop said. “It is women who produce and consume sports media. It is therefore the right direction to take because it represents the reality of society as a whole. ”
The course has 25 places and 14 of the students enrolled this semester are women. Staurowsky said it was the first and only class in sports media major in which she had more female students than female students. Senior Allura Leggard said she was drawn to the class because of Staurowsky’s reputation and the course description.
“I saw the teacher [Staurowsky’s] class, and I really loved the idea of women in sport because it’s such a topic that people don’t discuss, and if they discuss it, it’s very vague, ”Leggard said. “I think it’s so important to dig deeper and understand it, as well as just understand gender itself, gender and sex in sport.”
Sophomore Jake Lentz has said one aspect of the class he enjoys is the open discussions that Staurowsky encourages.
“As a department, we can change the way we can involve more women in sports media,” Lentz said. “For men, it gives them things to research that they do without thinking that could be disrespectful to the women on the ground. For women, it gives them a safer environment to talk about things. ”
Contributing writer Kyle DeSantis contributed reporting for this story.