San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

There’s a lack of representation and respect for women in sports, and society needs to recognize it

My childhood wounds shaped the direction of my life’s purpose
Photo courtesy of Aleyda Gerardo.

Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I faced a lot of gender discrimination and online sexism as a female athlete in male dominated sports.

One day in elementary school when I was so excited to try out for the school’s basketball team, I was turned down and told that the team was for “boys only.”

Life after primary school didn’t get any easier as I continued to pursue my passion for sports and started competitive scootering in my freshman year of high school.

On March 18, 2016, my life changed. I suffered a serious accident at Clairemont Skatepark. I face planted on street asphalt, knocked out and peeled several layers of flesh from my face, hands and body. Due to the fact that I was wearing an uncertified helmet, my head was not fully protected, resulting in a severe concussion.

To this day, I have no memories from that day. I only have what my family and friends witnessed, as well as a video of me in shock minutes after my accident.

During my recovery, I was receiving messages from boys telling me that I deserved to fall because girls aren’t supposed to scooter, as well as messages telling me to quit and do “girly” activities instead.

I tried my best to disregard these messages and not let them affect me, but as a teenage girl, there were moments when they did make me question my place in the sport. This cyberbullying continued throughout my scootering years, intensifying over time. The messages telling me that I “sucked” persisted but then worsened to others telling me that I should kill myself.

My family’s support, however, overcame all of this unnecessary negativity and helped me create a stronger mentality, which is when I discovered that I’m naturally drawn to challenges. Hence the nickname given to me by friends – “daredevil.”

My accident led to me homeschooling and graduating high school at 16 years old. I was eager to kickstart my college journey and enrolled in my local community college right away.

I’ve always known that I want to work in an adrenaline-fueled field as it’s something I prioritize having in my life. Quickly after starting my higher education, I put two and two together – that combining my passions for journalism and motorsports was the ideal path for me. My maternal grandfather owned auto parts shops in Tijuana. Therefore, I was exposed to the automotive and motorsports world early on.

My younger self, however, couldn’t help but feel underrepresented as Latinas have been marginalized in sports media. I wish Papo was still with us today to witness me overcoming that barrier and pursuing a passion he influenced.

In 2021, when I was the sports editor of my college newspaper, I was informed by my professor that I was the only female college sports editor in all of California.

According to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), 14.4% of sports reporters are women. Of that 14.4%, around 28% are women of color. Given that women of color make up 50.8% of the female population in the United States, it’s clear that they are underrepresented in this field.

Why is there a lack of female sports journalists? Because there isn’t enough respect or representation for women in sports media.

Since I began covering sports, particularly Formula 1, I’ve had numerous encounters in which men ask me a series of trivia questions, demonstrating that they underestimate me and my knowledge of the sport. This is one of the most common challenges that many women in sports face – having to prove themselves regularly.

An ESPN survey conducted in 2021 revealed the lack of female employment within the sport of Formula 1. Although 38% of Formula 1 Management’s 569 employees are female, data from independent teams is substantially lower. Haas, who are the smallest team on the grid, employ 167 people, 15 of whom are women (9%).

San Diego State University has more than 300 different student organizations, including SDSU Women in Sports, which focuses on women entering the sports industry and breaking glass ceilings.

Nicola Recker, fourth year business management major and President of SDSU Women in Sports, said the sports industry is very competitive so having clubs like these on campus is significant.

“Hearing such low numbers of representation of women in sports is very encouraging and is the reason why we have this club,” said Recker. “It’s the reason why we put on events and are doing this networking – because we want to raise those numbers.”

The SDSU Women in Sports club hosts meetings in which they have professional guest speakers, LinkedIn workshops and resume revamps. The club is open to any student who has a passion for wanting women to succeed within the sports industry, regardless of their gender.

“There’s challenges that women trying to work in sports face compared to men just because we are significantly less in numbers,” Recker added. “But women in sports are on the come up.”

Isabella Kunde, third year communication major and Vice President of Communications at the SDSU Women In Sports organization, said that the club seeks to improve representation in the industry and members are ready to reach their goals with hard work.

“We, SDSU Women in Sports, are here and we are ready to make the change because we are women who have big dreams,” said Kunde. “Everybody in this club has big goals. They know what they want to do and they are not afraid to go out and work to achieve them.”

I admire the aspiring women journalists and professionals who, just like me, share the same goal of breaking into the complex world of sports.

My immigrant parents made numerous sacrifices for my brother and I so that we could live a better life as we grew up. I’ve made it my life’s mission to not take that for granted and to seek out opportunities to inspire others as I go.

I was recently honored with a certificate from San Diego County, which stated, “Young people deserve to see representation and inclusion through exemplary work to elevate our communities.” As I move forward in my career and work hard to achieve my goals, I am determined to empower individuals, especially young Latinas, to feel that their dreams can come true.

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
There’s a lack of representation and respect for women in sports, and society needs to recognize it