Melodie Robinson leads initiative addressing lack of women in sports media industry

By Laura McGoldrick, New Zealand Herald August 04, 2017

A new initiative kick-started by broadcaster Melodie Robinson is setting out address a lack of female representation in the sports media industry.

Robinson has this year launched the W-Group – a venture aimed at encouraging more women to embark on careers in the sports media and empowering those that are already there.

The venture was inspired after Robinson was selected to take part in the highly prestigious ESPN mentoring programme.

“I’ve seen a number of young women come into the industry and get chewed up and spat out. I felt really bad about that, and I always said to myself ‘what can I do?'” said Robinson.

“Being overseas last year with ESPN, one of the things I noticed is they have these organisations where they mentor and do leadership programmes for women in the sports media industry. We don’t have anything like that here, so I thought let’s set up an organisation here to try and find different women to bring into the industry and try to empower the ones that are there.”

Robinson said working in a male-dominated industry where conventional stereotypes about women’s involvement in sport often go unchallenged, can make the industry a daunting place for female reporters.

She also believes the viewing public hold women to different standards than their male counterparts.

“There are a number of challenges being a woman in sports media, particularly on air.”

“My hair is naturally curly, I can’t wear my hair like that on television because I get criticised for it. I get tweets, emails and even people at work say to me ‘you’ve got to do your hair’.”

“I had spent half a day prepping, I’m an ex-player who has won two World Cups, are you not listening to what is coming out of my mouth? Do you think any of the male commentators get that?”

The other problem, Robinson says, is that women don’t choose a career in the sports media as they do not see a pathway for them. The W-Group hopes to identify fresh talent to bring into the industry and fast-track their development through leadership and mentoring programmes.

“It’s about encouraging different people to take it on, and providing mentoring programmes for them to help advance their career.”

“It’s not elite, I just want lots of interested young females getting into this wonderful sports media industry we’re involved with.”

“If they don’t come in and give their ideas then we’re in trouble really. Audiences are getting smaller and we need to grow it, and appealing to females seems the logical way to go.”

Original article: