Sexism in Sport

Sarah McMahon
6 min readFeb 27, 2023

[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]

“You’re fast now, but you’re young,” one of my high school teachers told me, “girls always slow down as they grow up.” I was a Sophomore, barely fifteen. So far, I’d had a good amount of running success, in a big-fish-small-pond sort of way. As far as growing into womanhood, I’d already done a lot of developing; I’d stopped getting taller, developed breasts, gotten my period (once), and didn’t really understand what he meant. As far as I was concerned, I was done growing up, physically at least.

The notion that girls slow down when they reach womanhood came at me from more than one direction, especially once I reached the college stage. We were encouraged to remain small, the lightest, most girlish bodies the ones that succeeded, temporarily. Woman in their early twenties almost always encounter a predictable performance plateau, one that men of the same age don’t experience. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as an officially registered competitor. Sports have been around a long time, but women participating in sport is something that’s still relatively new.

I remember watching the 2010 Winter Olympics during one of my class periods in high school. Women were playing hockey and speed skating and snowboarding. They were strong and fierce, but I noticed that one of my favorite…