By Lexi Ray
As a woman who works as a sports photographer, I know firsthand that this is a male-dominated area. Most try to ignore you, some tolerate you, and the ones that are fine with you being there believe that they know best and that you should listen to everything they say.
Just a thought, but I would think that if I have worked my way up to get to the point of working as a team photographer, I know what settings to put my camera on and I don’t need you to “help” by physically changing my camera’s settings while I’m trying to do my job.
Sports have always been a man’s world. Women in sports weren’t really a thing until 2012, when women sports journalists were finally allowed to interview players along with the rest of their male colleagues. Even now that there are some women making names for themselves in the sports field, they still aren’t valued the same as their male counterparts
The guy’s world doesn’t know what to do with us or how to navigate the world of sports where women are involved and because of that it can leave us feeling like we are the only ones around.
I have grown up as an athlete, and a person who consumes sport. The issue though is that female and male sports have always been separated.
Now on the other side as a female sports photographer, the issue is still at large.
It is a problem that I have experienced working at the semi-pro level and the collegiate level.
It’s not just me, Flagler’s Athletics Director of Communications Becca Rios, has had experience with this herself.
Becca started like most of us, in college reporting on high school sports. She experienced being judged before anyone even knew who she was. They assumed that she didn’t know what she was doing or anything about sports.
They thought that she needed their help to succeed. While help is great, mansplaining isn’t. Clearly, Becca knew what she was doing otherwise she wouldn’t have become the director of communications straight out of college.
For many men, they tend to feel intimated and inferior to women in sports and that same trend has correlated over to women in sports media.
Even 20 years later, not much has changed since I was a kid.
In reality, we know just as much as any of the guys around us do, but we are judged before people even get the chance to find out.
Working for a men’s sports team, as the only girl on staff, can be daunting. You are stuck. You can feel alone.
However, you have to learn to not let that stuff stop or discourage you. But when you are working for a team and you have to be left outside the building because you’re a girl and the only thing they rented was the guys locker room. It can feel isolating.
Sure, they don’t mean to make you feel like that, but it is inevitable when you are the only woman surrounded by an environment filled with men.
Working as a sports photographer isn’t any better. As a 5-foot-tall female, I guess I have learned to expect the looks and comments from guys who have been working in this field for years.
However, you should know that if I have made it into this field that I know how to use my camera. You can ask questions but don’t make assumptions.
No, it wasn’t daddy’s money, I worked to buy my gear. No, I don’t need you to tell me what to put my equipment settings on. And no, I don’t need you to tell me that you know best.
I may be a girl with a camera that weighs about as much as me, but I know exactly what I’m doing.
Sports need to learn to expand and accept women. We aren’t any different than our male counterparts. It’s not a part of genetics that only a guy can know sports.
Women in sports will be the new normal so men better learn to move over and work with us rather than against us. Or they need to move aside, because we are taking over.