The Use of Gendered Language in Interviews of Male and Female Athletes

Julia Offerman, Isabelle Sandback, Samantha Morgan, and Niki Agarwal

Societal viewpoints regarding sports can be partially attributed to gender bias in sports commentating and interviews. This is true even for tennis, which has become very gender-inclusive in terms of media coverage, as well as respect for female athletes. Still, many studies have found biases in language used for male and female tennis players—but have not examined interviews or interview questions. In this study, we analyzed six post-game interviews of mixed doubles tennis players to ascertain if there was a difference in questions directed to female and male tennis players. We observed the proportion of emotional and practical questions directed to each, as well as the proportion of questions regarding the interviewee themself, their partner, or teamwork for each player. We found that the women were asked significantly more emotional questions than their male counterparts, but that both were asked relatively similar percentages of interviewee-partner-teamwork questions. This study has important implications for language, respect, and gender-inclusivity surrounding tennis and women’s sports, as well as interview protocol between men and women interviewees in other fields. These metrics analyzed could be used in these other cases, and ideally, the differences should be mitigated in order to promote equality in interviews.

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