Date of release: Friday, August 31, 2018

With women's sport making more headlines than ever, why do female athletes still struggle to secure partnerships with leading brands?

Dr Emmanuel Mogaji, Lecturer in Advertising and Marketing Communications at the University of Greenwich, heads up the Sportswomen Project, a group which has written a research paper on the issue.

The project conducted 30 interviews with sportswomen, brand managers and members of the public to explore the underlying reasons behind the disparity in women and men's earning power in sport.

This is especially relevant as, for the first time ever, Forbes' 2018 list of the 100 top-earning athletes contains no women.

Speaking about these challenges and why brands should be keen to partner with women, Dr Mogaji said:

"There are multiple reasons why this is the case. Many female athletes feel that because they aren't as well known, it is harder to secure brand partnerships, an issue that is compounded by the lack of mainstream coverage many women's sports receive. Another problem is that brands often partner with female athletes based on their appearance, rather than their sporting achievements, an issue that is less prevalent with male athletes.

 "In not partnering with female athletes brands are being incredibly short-sighted. The visibility of and interest in women's sports is expanding rapidly, for example the 2018 women's hockey world cup received extensive media coverage from the BBC, ITV and the Evening Standard, to name just a few.

"Brands that partner with female athletes now will be in a much better position when they are fully entrenched in the mainstream, as they will be seen as authentic and genuine supporters of women's sport, rather than just bandwagon jumpers.

"From the athlete's side, training and workshops which help sportswomen cultivate their brand appeal are a massive step in the right direction when it comes to securing brand partnerships for female athletes.

Governing bodies and rights holders also need to do their bit, providing equal opportunities for sportswomen and being more open to commercialisation, both of which would make women's sport more appealing to a wider audience."