3:10pm Thursday 22nd May 2014
By Suzanne Geldard
WHEN is a sexist comment not a sexist comment? When it is said in private, or rather written on a private email. Apparently.
But when it comes from the mouth, or in this instance fingertips – certainly the mind – of a leading figure in a global field then someone needs to do something.
So far, no-one has done anything.
Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, has apologised for comments made about an unnamed woman and that, it seems, is the end of the story.
Hands washed. Chip paper at the ready.
But is he really sorry for the derogatory words that have been exposed, or is he just sorry that he was caught?
When you’ve worked in the journalism industry for any length of time it takes a lot to shock.
But the language used in reference to women in this email exchange was at such a level of inappropriateness it would make even the most hardened ‘hack’ gasp.
Under the ‘personal life’ section of Scudamore’s Wikipedia page it says he is ‘married to Catherine and has five children: Jamie, Chloe, Patrick, Ned and Lara’. A wife and two daughters, which makes his lack of respect for the opposite sex even harder to swallow.
This is not just a work-related issue, it is humanitarian.
But as I prepare, in the work place, for another season of Premier League football following Burnley’s promotion it concerns me.
I must stress, I have never encountered any gender-related difficulties since covering the Clarets, or Accrington Stanley before that.
Both family orientated clubs, they uphold those values, and any disagreements I have had with managers or players have been professional, not personal.
I was 10 years old when I decided ‘when I grow up, I want to write about football’. I played it, I watched it, I loved writing.
For me, it was a natural career path.
Of course, despite my tender years, I was fully aware that I would be entering a so-called man’s world.
But I had the late Helen Rollason as a role model to aspire to in the 1990s, blazing a trail for women in sport as the first female presenter of Grandstand.
I worked hard at it. I got my head down at school, got the grades that I needed to do a university course that would put me on the career path that had chosen at a very young age.
There were hundreds of applicants for the 25 places available. I was delighted to get an interview. I was over the moon to be selected for the diploma, and delighted to be alongside another like-minded female. I wasn’t alone, and we were there on merit.
Since then there are many more women entering the world of sports journalism, particularly football, and it is great to see.
But if anything the glass ceiling is getting thicker, less penetrable.
But that won’t stop us chipping away at it.
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