New research reveals paucity of women on Sports Illustrated covers

Published: Friday, May 10 2013 1:10 p.m. MDT

United States goalkeeper Hope Solo reacts during the penalty shootout of the final match between Japan and the United States at the Women's Soccer World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, Sunday, July 17, 2011. Solo was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in July 2011.

Martin Meissner, Associated Press

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Excluding its annual swimsuit edition, Sports Illustrated published 716 issues from January 2000 to June 2011. Of all those magazines, women appeared on 35 covers (4.9 percent) — and only 18 times (2.5 percent) was a woman “the primary or sole image” on the cover of a given issue.

The data comes from research University of Louisville professors Jonetta Weber and Robert Carini recently published in the journal International Review for the Sociology of Sport.

“Beyond the limited number of covers,” Weber and Carini wrote, “women’s participation in sport was often minimized by sharing covers with male counterparts, featuring anonymous women not related directly to sports participation, sexually objectifying female athletes, and promoting women in more socially acceptable gender-neutral or feminine sports.”

Tom Jacobs reported about Weber and Carini’s research in an article that has been published online by both Pacific Standard magazine and Salon.com.

“The contrast with the magazine’s first decade of existence is stark,” Jacobs wrote. “Between 1954 and 1965, women were featured on 74 SI covers, or 12.6 percent of the total.”

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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