One Finite Planet

One Finite Planet

Sport and Gender Equality

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I was reading a news article today a comment on how Venus Williams has been a tireless campaigner for women in sport:  It made me contemplate how equality in sport may actually be counter productive towards achieving gender equality overall.

“Venus has developed as the more steadfast of the two, emerging as a leader for all women on the tour with her advocacy for equality with men in a sport where a pay gap still exists despite tennis’ ground breaking equal pay efforts at the majors. ” to quote the article.

I have nothing against equal pay in sport, but I do believe it needs to be separated from other gender equality issues and considered as a special case.

Consider these two examples:
1) A woman supreme court justice

2) The no1 woman’s tennis player

The supreme court justice is selected because of her legal skills.  Outright.  Because there is no reason or observation that men are better than women at legal skills.  If significantly more men are selected than women to be high court judges than at some level the system has a problem as the legal skills are equal for both genders.

But now consider the tennis players.  Tennis skills are not actually equal for both genders.  Sport is the main remaining area where the genders actually do NOT have equal capability. This does disturb me, and represents a problem, but it is still a fact.  The no1 woman’s tennis player is not assumed to be the best player in the world, but the no1 men’s tennis player IS assumed to be the best player in the world.  There should however be an equal chance that the best woman chief justice in the world would be a woman.

The original injustice was the failure to achieve equal pay for equal work.  And by equal work it is implied ‘equal skill at that work’.  It is normal and still respected that if you are less skilful at an occupation, then be less pay may be reasonable.

I see sport as a special case.  In many, if not most sports, men are actually have an advantage that means men and women are not equal.  Earning equal pay when not actually being equal is a completely different issue then earning equal pay and equal access to opportunities and employment when men and woman are equal.

Society has largely evolved from a society where fighting skills and manual labour determined many employment opportunities, to a society where almost every role can be equally undertaken by men and women.  But not sport, so it is a different case.

The danger is that some can see the whole equality debate as being about women wanting equal pay and opportunities despite not being equal.  But apart from sport, women are equal!

“If it was the proper game, there would be flags everywhere”.
That’s the sentiment on the ground in Sydney just hours ahead of kick-off for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup tonight.

Response to simple question exposes Australia’s weak spot


  • *2023 July 21: Updates from women’s world cup
  • 2015 March 18: Initial version

Table of Contents


Flawed Australian voice of Indigenous People referendum: The irony of a voice campaign that failed to listen.

A tragic lost opportunity. Why didn’t those proposing the voice make changes to remove ambiguity and eliminated enough of the negative perception to win over enough support instead of simply declaring” “No, if that is how you see it you are either racist or stupid!” Was it just that there was no willingness to listen?

Australians had an opportunity in a constitutional referendum to righteously shout loudly “I am not a racist” by voting for a proposition that, at its core, could be seen as fundamentally flawed, divisive and even potentially racist, in the hope even a risk of moving in the direction of apartheid is still better than nothing.

The referendum resulted in a huge setback for action on indigenous disadvantage and while it did seem unlikely to do anything to unify Australians and offer more than some possible affirmative action, the division resulted with even sometimes “yes” voters being encouraged to also be racist.

This is a deeper look trying to see each side from the perspective of the other, with the reality that both sides had a point, and a vast majority of people do want equality and unity.

Perhaps it little more work could bring things together and offer a fresh enough perspective to move beyond just another well-intentioned patronising racism failure like the stolen generations?

Read More »

Australia as a clean energy superpower? Yeah…nah!

The third largest exporter of fossil fuels behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia, Australia could already be regarded as a fossil fuel superpower, but can Australia become a “clean energy superpower” as suggested by many including recently by the Fully Charged Show.

What is a clean energy superpower? There are several different possible interpretations ranging from greenwashing to world changing. Inspired by the Fully Charged video that looks at one modest by realistic interpretation, this is a deeper look at the possibilities.

Despite the rhetoric and enormous potential, Australia shows little commitment to any more than an attempt to move from “clean coal” to “clean gas” and miss potentially huge opportunities, not only for Australia, but perhaps even for the planet.

Read More »