The underlying bias of sport between male and female, places many females at a distinct disadvantage (even before she is old enough to know that she wants to be involved) because many females are not encouraged to participate in sports that were previously male dominated. Some men are still convinced that females should not be involved, let alone enjoy, certain sports, especially physical contact sports.
Society expects less from the female athlete and values less what she does achieve. This information is conveyed to girls and women in such a way that they are more likely than males to underestimate their athletic abilities. Males, on the other hand, tend to overestimate their ability.
Women tend to underestimate their athletic abilities because, again from a very young age, girls are reinforced differently from boys. There is a tendency to give boys a praise for their accomplishments, such as “you really hammered that guy in the ring.” While females would be more likely to be told ” you look great in boxing shorts.”
The impact of a women perceiving herself to be lacking in ability may adversely affect her self-confidence and motivation. If she loses confidence she may be reluctant to keep pursing goals. The male on the other hand, preserves his self-esteem by believing he has the ability, he just needs to try harder. It has also been noticed that when challenged, women tend to strive for personal standards, while males are more preoccupied with defeating their opponents.
Remember the old saying “Horses sweat, men perspire, but women only glow?” The man who made that observation obviously didn’t know any female athletes!
Research into women in sport has increased dramatically and scientific evidence has shown that men and women are, in fact, have little difference in tapping their sporting potential. This is not to suggest that women athletes should necessarily be compared to men or that women’s performances will eventually equal meets. The important issue is that the public at large, hold expectations for women athletes that are realistic.