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100esperte Champions Gender Equality in Sports Media at Milan Event

Photo: Courtesy of 100esperte

On Thursday, July 4, the Catholic University in Milan hosted “Verso le Olimpiadi della parità” [Toward the Olympics of Equality]. This event, organized by 100esperte – one of the women experts’ databases in the ENWE network – in collaboration with the Lombardy Journalists’ Association, the Alta Scuola in Media, Comunicazione e Spettacolo (Almed) of the Catholic University, and the Milano Cortina 2026 Foundation, addressed gender equality in sports media, providing valuable insights for journalists and the general public.

Paris 2024: A Milestone for Gender Parity

The upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics will make history as the first Games to achieve absolute gender parity, featuring equal numbers of male and female athletes—5,250 each. This marks a significant milestone from Paris 1900, where only 22 women participated, to Tokyo 2020, where women represented 48,7% of athletes. The Paralympic Games will also see substantial progress, with 235 medal events for women in 2024 (43% of the total), up from 37 female participants in Rome 1960.

Only 4% of sports news
focuses on women

Addressing Media Representation

Despite progress on the field, the representation of women’s sports in the media remains critically low. Monia Azzalini, Head of the Media and Gender Department at the Osservatorio di Pavia, highlighted some of the findings from the latest Global Media Monitoring Project: only 4% of sports news focuses on women, often using stereotypical language; while female sports professionals have a visibility rate of only 14% compared to 86% for men, and they are rarely consulted as experts.

Paola Abbiezzi, Director of the Master in Sports Communication at Milan’s Catholic University, discussed the influential role of sports coverage in shaping gender norms. She referenced the IOC’s Portrayal Guidelines, which advocate for gender-equal, fair, and inclusive sports representation.

Tools and Initiatives for Progress

The event presented practical tools to tackle these issues, including the 100esperte project, the document “Donne, Sport e Media: idee guida per una diversa informazione” [Women, Sports, and Media: Guidelines for Different Information], and ethical standards in sports journalism. The participation of Olympic and Paralympic athletes underscored the importance of giving voice to those who should be the protagonists of sports media.

Gaela Bernini, Secretary General of Fondazione Bracco, emphasized the strategic importance of the 100esperte database – an initiative by Gi.U.Li.A. Giornaliste and the Osservatorio di Pavia supported by Fondazione Bracco. Accessible at 100esperte.it, this resource features over 460 profiles of female experts in strategic sectors, including sports, enhancing public debate and supporting gender parity in media representation.

Insights from Industry Leaders

Moderated by journalist Luisella Seveso, a founding member of ENWE, the event featured the following speakers:

  • Marco Lombardi: Director of the School of Journalism at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan
  • Claudia Giordani: Former Olympic skiing champion and Vice President of CONI
  • Diana Bianchedi: Chief Strategy Planning Legacy Officer at Fondazione Milano Cortina 2026
  • Gaela Bernini: Secretary General of Fondazione Bracco
  • Monia Azzalini: Head of the Media and Gender Department at the Osservatorio di Pavia 
  • Paola Abbiezzi: Director of the Master in Sports Communication at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
  • Mimma Caligaris: GiULi.A. Giornaliste
  • Ruben Razzante: Professor of Information Law at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan
  • Sergio Giuntini: President of the Italian Society of Sports History
  • Chiara Mazzel: Paralympic skiing champion
  • Novella Calligaris: Former Olympic swimming champion and President of ANAOAI (National Association of Italian Olympic and Azzurri Athletes)

Notably, Claudia Giordani, Diana Bianchedi, Paola Abbiezzi, and Novella Calligaris are part of the 100esperte database’s sports section.

Commitment to Change

As the world looks towards Paris 2024 and beyond, the event celebrated achievements while reinforcing the commitment to changing narratives and promoting equality in sports media—a mission shared by ENWE and 100esperte. With initiatives like these, the journey towards gender parity in sports media continues to gain momentum.

ENWE – European Network for Women Excellence is an advocacy group committed to creating a network of European databases that offer an extensive selection of prestigious female profiles for interviews, conferences, and panels. Find out more about our network here.

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