Fair Play

Gender Segregation, Commentating and Potty Parity

Maia Lewis
Maia Lewis

Zoe kicks off the year asking whether sport should be divided by gender, sharing her public potty experiences and what it’s like for women to commentate on men’s sport

FAIR PLAY is a co-production of Radio New Zealand and WiSP Sports Radio and presented by Zoe George

Podcast length: 29’28”

This month on FAIR PLAY Zoe is joined by sports psychologist Karen Nimmo again and they cover a range of topics affecting women in New Zealand sport.  Former White Fern Maia Lewis steps up to the crease this summer to commentate cricket – men’s international cricket that is and we know Zoe enjoys talking about cricket!  Then, dividing sport by gender – is it time this stopped? Leading academic Roslyn Kerr from Lincoln University on how to think about sport and the gender binary differently. We also have a few quick hits including facilities at sporting grounds, sexual assault and the #metoo movement.

For more episodes of FAIR PLAY click here

Follow Zoe and Karen on Twitter @producer_zoe and @karenonthecouch


[00:00:00] Kia Ora. I’m Zoe George and welcome to the fourth episode of Fair Play a podcast covering women and sport from athletes and results to current affairs and issues. You can listen to our entire back catalogue that features interviews with some of the country’s top sports women at www.rnz.co.nz and wispsports.com. At wispsports you can also find a bevy of fantastic sports shows from around the world including the brand new morning show with Chris Stafford and Gabby Hall. If you have to something non sporty there’s a huge selection on www.rnz.co.nz. My personal favorite; Bang. It’s all about love, sex, identity and relationships in modern day. It’s a good laugh. Really enjoyed it. You can keep up to date with us and all the happenings on social media. It was sports oriented and producer underscores Zoe. This month former white fern Maia Lewis steps up to the crease the summer to commentate cricket – men’s international cricket. Then dividing sport by gender. Is it time this stopped? Leading academic Rozlyn Kerr from Lincoln University on how to think about sport and the gender binary differently. We also have a few quick cuts including facilities at sports grounds sexual assault and the #metoo movement. But first let’s meet this month’s co-host sports psychologist Karen Nimmo Kia Ora Karen.

[00:01:21] Hi Zoe.

[00:01:22] Welcome back. It’s been a little while since you’ve been on the podcast. You’ve been here there and everywhere haven’t you?

[00:01:29] Fantastic it’s always a pleasure to be here to help you. I’ve been around and about I’ve been to India on a four month long trip which was absolutely fascinating. I’m a big fan of India so that was fun and obviously all the festive season and the great weather that Wellington has been having. You’ve lost me lunchtime. Yeah the beaches you’ve been to and your before haven’t you. Sportspeople I have oh I went for the IPL and I was working with a client over there so it was quite a different experience. We were and six star plus hotels that time but the time was a little bit more on the budget side. Not too bad though. A great fun and really interesting to be exposed. That IPL environment because the riches and the temptations are really quite something. I can only imagine and you were saying about the beaches New Zealand summertime. For those who aren’t in New Zealand the weather has been a little bit. But those days that have been hot have been incredible unseasonal for Wellington. We’re not sleeping too well but we can take that. Oh well I must admit it’s perfect weather for cricket and that’s our topic for today. I am as we all know a huge cricket fan and I support both the men’s and women’s teams. Recently I went to the Basin Reserve Karen to see the Black Caps play Pakistan and sat on the ball on the embankment there, the best spot in all of Wellington.

[00:02:46] Absolutely.

[00:02:46] Under the Pohutukawa, it’s stunning. What I wanted to talk about today was potty parity. Have you heard the saying before.

[00:02:54] Well I have now but not quite in the way of phrasing it. Yes. Yeah. So we’re talking about toilet equality something that really caught my attention when I was there and ended up having a big discussion with the woman and line was how long the lines were for the women’s toilets and some parts I was waiting more than 20 minutes to use the facilities.

[00:03:13] In the end I was like yeah I’ve had enough of this and ended up going into the men’s toilets and just going sorry gentlemen I’m just going to stand here I’m not going to look I’m going to wait for one of the cubicles come free I’m going to go and I’m going to leave for the women there were me there were men in the men’s toilets and they and no problems.

[00:03:35] I did get kind of a little bit of a speaking to a security guard on the way out but what I found interesting was there. Now we’re talking about the Northern into the ground of you know the Basin Reserve. And there are toilets all around the Basin Reserve but there’s still more means toilets then women’s and. And the amount of space that is dedicated to means toilets than women’s was a little bit shocking for me to actually see inside the means toilets. This space is probably about four or five times bigger than the women’s toilets. They have more space dedicated to urinals. They’ve only got two cubicles while women only have three and a really confined space. So you know there’s been a marked increase of women at cricket games and this has been a bit of an issue. What are your thoughts on this if women have to wait this long. What should we be doing about it. I thank you for going into the men’s toilets because needs must be met. The first instance I think I have used those toilets the women’s facilities are appalling at the base and I think it’s an odd throwback to the old days when men mostly did attend the matches so I can see why the numbers were set up like that in the first place but I think New Zealand cricket will be making a big effort now that they are really behind you know participation and getting more women along those will be the kinds of things they want to address because really it’s not acceptable to have toilets that are poor no soap.

[00:05:00] You know really I don’t think I saw a hen basin in the men’s loos. Well the woman’s hair. But they don’t have soap.

[00:05:06] Well I figure I put this to both New Zealand cricket and to the Basin Reserve. And so the base reserve team say that there is two male toilets at the north into the ground plus urinals three women’s toilets at the South for men’s plus urinals three women’s toilets. There is only one disabled toilet which I am. I don’t know how I feel about it. Family room and toilet aren’t stand there’s a few more and they also have the trucks. The number of women according to New Zealand cricket has increased. It was hovering around that 40 percent mark the last two seasons. When it comes to people buying tickets so 40 percent of the people who are going to these games are women. That’s right. And when I spoke to them about it I said well what are you doing about the Basin Reserve are currently looking at redesigning these facilities. And so I asked about gender neutral toilets and they are yet to consider it. But is this something that we should be doing is gender neutral a possibility or should we still be segregating and this kind of environment.

[00:06:09] I think we have to look at it in terms of inclusion. Gender is a hot topic now and we can’t afford to just put that aside and say Here we have men’s and women’s and nothing in between nothing to cater for all sorts of people so perhaps a max and I’m sure they will be considering that. They are into diversity and so I would be surprised if there was lift off the agenda. Yeah they are going to be redeveloping the northern and southern blocs with an increased number of toilets. They’re going to be seeking feedback from quote key stakeholders but they have no plans considered as yet for gender neutral bathrooms.

[00:06:43] What I found really interesting when I talked to New Zealand cricket was that quote in SEA is anxious to provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience for all patrons. And I thought the use of that would anxiously. It’s like we’re just a little bit anxious to go to the tournament anyway. So there you go. It’s going to be an interesting topic. There have been cases in the states we’re at sports grounds. They have converted women’s toilets to means toilets.

[00:07:12] And there has been massive uproar that happened last year. I think it was an ice hockey rink and they thought they’d get more male fans so they converted one of the women’s. Well it’s an interesting.

[00:07:24] So someone who is represented women on the international stage as former White Fence Captain Maia Lewis she’s taken up the spot behind the microphone this summer to commentate cricket and not just any cricket but means international cricket. This has followed a global trend of seeing cricket savvy women adding their voices to the commentary rosters. The season Maia has been commentating the Black Caps versus Pakistan series and there’s a chance she’ll be back in the booth for the English tour late February. She’s also commentating domestic means cricket and of course the white fans.

[00:07:57] I was able to capture between sessions and I started by asking her what it’s like commentating the men’s game against a bit of a dream of mine that I’ve had for a while so you know it’s great the guys have been really supportive and a steep learning curve you sort of get thrown in a little bit and you’ve got to have your say and you sort of learn the ropes as you go but you know the other fellow commentators the guys have been supportive of our hearing woman and they’re not just me but they’ve hopefully and a like Katrina Keenan down and Christchurch has started doing a little bit as well so a few females are getting into means cricket which is great.

[00:08:31] Has it been a challenge to get women into the commentary box for men’s cricket

[00:08:37] Look it’s been happening overseas Australia and Lisa Stoliker and Mel Jones been doing it for quite a long time now and then even during IPL and that sort of stuff as well and now there’s Anjin Chopka from India and Charlotte Edwards I know from England doing it but so all the other countries starting to get on board a little bit with it. So I’m you know I think New Zealand are starting to do that as well and obviously they broke ground with females commentating means test which I don’t. Not sure if that has been done because they didn’t have any recent Ashes in Australia. So you know initially there was their image of all middle aged white men went round social media. Did you see that.

[00:09:17] I actually did I think the whole thing was male pale and stale or something but not necessarily the case. But look I mean Australia have probably been one of the most inclusive in terms of female commentators so it was really probably just for that series and you know it’s a traditional thing. I mean this time things like this take time you can’t expect countries or or things to change really rapidly at small steps but differing in the right direction and so I think you know if a witness like that continues happening then changes happen as well.

[00:09:50] Whose idea was that to do this to put women and the commentary box. Was it driven by women or was it driven by men.

[00:10:00] It’s a interesting question probably for Sky themselves but you know I’ve sort of I sort of indicated I was interested in and seen if I could give it a crack and do some if there was an opening at all. And I think obviously with the media that’s been going around and about inclusion and general being left at around New Zealand and New Zealand cricket with this sport as well it sort of fits that bill too. So you know I think sort of Sky have got on board and have been a lot more open so that’s a great thing and was Melati Robinson being there who’s a wonderful store and a mentor of mine you know. And now she’s with a sky that helps things even further I think.

[00:10:37] When are you getting paid the same as the male commentators this tradeoff.

[00:10:41] Oh well come straight to that point if we’re talking about absolutely nothing here. We can’t talk about not talk about being players or girls.

[00:10:49] So look I’m not exactly sure what other people are on I know that it doesn’t really matter whether they’re a male or female there’s a sort of an a development phase. Commentator fever’s is a more experienced commentator so I think that’s quality depending on your experience really.

[00:11:05] Yeah absolutely. We’re talking to my lowest former White Feehan who has been sitting in the commentary box for the men’s Black Caps tours. They have been playing so well but let’s not talk about the Black Caps because this is a woman and sport podcast. You also been working with the Halberg Disability Sports Foundation and you head you off final day recently. What was your role there.

[00:11:26] Yeah I’ve been there for five years and my role was a lead disability sport advisor so it’s basically getting physically disabled people into sport or being active mainly targeting kids and I had two regions which I was covering counties Monaco in Northland. So pretty big regions and did some national stuff as well running a national water sports project. So really fulfilling role out of sports of sports I hadn’t even don’t even know exist or initially when I started five years ago like botcher and wheelchair basketball and with rugby and volleyball and that sort of stuff. So I learnt hate’s from then onto a new journey really really just yeah.

[00:12:05] Later in the podcast we’re going to be talking to an academic who looks at Gina diversion and sport and the fact that actually we shouldn’t be dividing. Based on gender lines when it comes to sport with disability it’s not about gender as it’s about ability when it comes to sports teams and definitely yeah you mean someone like Tesco is a prime example of that.

[00:12:29] Who’s one of our top Paralympians swimmer and not many many gold medals. You know she’s female and she’s doing really well and so it makes no difference. I mean in the work we do as well it’s just about getting people active who have a physical disability of some sort. So they get the same opportunity whether it being adapted in some way as everyone else you know it could be recreation as well. So we get into of sports like predicting paddleboarding and surfing and that sort of stuff is well a pretty tough thing at the beach sometimes laughs.

[00:13:02] It sounds like heaven sounds fantastic and you’ve just finished up with them and you’re off to college football club. Why the change.

[00:13:11] Oh look it’s always about career progression and you know sort of middle aged now so I can’t sort of sit on my laurels and new challenges. So those sorts of things are relocated back to Auckland which is always interesting being in the big smoke with the traffic but yeah there’s a lot of positives for me it’s sort of complementary with the commentating as well. So yeah an exciting challenge where I’m working with another sport relationship manager. It used to be a part of Georges Bailey old job which is an honor to be taking over here and I’m working sort of 18 different sports in the college sector you know around Auckland so it’s going to be very busy very busy.

[00:13:51] But like you said it also means that it will fit around your commentary. What else are you commentating this season we’ve got Pakistan means team and New Zealand at the moment. Are you going to be commentating on the English tour as well.

[00:14:04] Yeah look it’s all but unknown. So I’m doing this after I did a couple of days at Sydney park at the means test. And these camps have done another super super smash game down in the mount and I’m doing another one. The preliminary final tomorrow at Eden Park outer oval so you know they’ll giving me some domestic games continue to gain from experience which is fantastic. The more hands on bidding you get. From what I can tell an utterly honest answers one that the white fans are playing in his televised game down in the mount our 2020 game down there in March so I’ll be doing that one as well so I’m just sort of revolving and I’m just taking some opportunities as they arise.

[00:14:48] Really that was a white fence. Captain Meyer Lewis who has been commentating means international cricket this summer I put a request into Sky Sport as I always do when it comes to pay parity who hire the cricket commentators and asked if women get paid the same as men. Their response was quote a freelance contracts a standard no matter of the gender. Speaking of gender we are talking with Kiwi academic Dr Roslyn Kerr. She is the Head of Department of Tourism Sport and Society at Lincoln University. She published an article late last year that is gender based sports can be seen as a form of discrimination which reinforces male superiority as the norm. So what does that mean for the future of sport and should men and women compete on the same sports field. Kuda Rozlyn how did this idea come about.

[00:15:39] I suppose what I really started thinking about that we actually have a classification of between men and women and so of thinking well what’s that based on and realise that a lot of the assumptions around why men are superior to women at sport are actually not necessarily linked to gender. And there’s so much crossover in terms of men’s and women’s performance. If you think of something like any of the large marathons that are run a gay man might be the first finisher but there’s almost always a woman in the top 10 meaning that there’s a lot of women beating a lot of men and a lot of different events. But the way that it sorts set up we’re not really allowed to sort of see that or focus on and instead it just keeps reinforcing this assumption that men are superior to women and women just don’t have that chance to prove themselves which isn’t the case in any other walks of life. We don’t there isn’t really an anywhere else where we say oh no no no you’re not even going to have a go at trying to be the best at that sorry because we know you just can’t you know that’s just not and that’s I think what I was really meaning about that comment about being discriminatory that it’s simply as it is set up at the moment there’s just not an opportunity for women to even try to be the best at any sport because it’s assumed they can’t. And so yeah I guess my thinking was really about Huckabee criticism that’s fair and it isn’t doesn’t make assumptions around gender. That’s really what I was after.

[00:16:58] So how do we go about doing that then.

[00:17:00] Well I was suggesting that instead of classifying purely by gender I just classify by physical characteristics which is exactly what they do in the Paralympics. So instead of you know instead of saying that it’s just because you’re a woman that you that your body type means you can do this or you can’t do that or whatever then you instead say Okay well it’s because your body has a certain amount of muscle mass or something like that in Paralympics they have things like you know what if you are sitting balance in certain positions and that kind of thing depending on the disability. So it’s not based on what exact medical condition you’ve got it’s based on what your body can do. So that’s what I was sort of suggesting that we could play around with in sports and I’m not at all suggesting that this is a perfect idea but I just really want to start the conversation about how we could actually do sport differently without relying on these assumptions around gender and performance.

[00:17:48] ANNIE GUEST Is it a new conversation.

[00:17:52] I think I know you were talking before about trends and I think probably in that space is where the conversation is as happened more than other places. So I think it has been going for some time but I think what really what I haven’t seen before is anybody really saying Well here is an alternative system. So that’s really what I was trying to come up with is just to say okay well here is something we could work from. And believe me in the article over it and there’s about three pages saying that I know it isn’t perfect and I know that there’s a lot more research that needs to be done to work out how that would actually take place ideally. But I still think it’s there. I haven’t really come across anything else where anyone said okay well if we’re not going to do. The only options are either everybody competes together or we have ended segregation it’s like well actually there could be another option. Why don’t we look at different traits that create success and use those to classify athletes just like they do in the Paralympics.

[00:18:44] We’re talking with Dr. Rozlyn Kerr about gender segregation and sport this physical implications too though right. I mean it might be okay to have let’s say golf maybe you could play golf links to each other. I mean I’m sure Lydia Ko would absolutely wipe the floor with so many male golfers. What about Rugby though, we’ve got to think about this consideration don’t we

[00:19:06] Well to some extent yes but on the other hand do we or do we sit there and say we have to think about the small men and two and not allow them to play rugby. So you know I meant you know not all men are actually six feet tall and built like Richie McCaw. So what happens to those men who are only five foot five. Do we say oh we don’t want to have them play rugby because you know they might get hurt and they should prevent them in case it’s bad for them. So why do we treat women any differently.

[00:19:33] Karen what are your thoughts on this, are there any psychological indications playing sport with the opposite gender

[00:19:41] Well I think it’s a really interesting topic and I as I said before I think opening the door on things like this is so interesting. Rozum I mean you know in terms of psychology I’ve never seen any difference and levels of determination or work ethic between men and women. So you know and that space I think is no reason not to. However I suppose you’ve addressed there are some practical implications in terms of actually physically implementing this and also I guess we have to consider that women do want to compete against women too because you know there is that level playing field in that regard and you can win and also that women like being with women. So you know there’s a whole lot of other factors that come into it but I think particularly in relation to the trans gender issue rising up you know why not look at how we can reclassify things and why. Why be so narrow as to just keep our minds focused on what’s always been.

[00:20:41] Yeah for me some of my earliest and most favourite sporting memories was playing cricket and a boys team and getting a boy out.

[00:20:49] And when my fist hits if I was so throws and the guy in the boy just stood there he just stood there and he’s like I’m not going up in bold bad girl and the umpire was like No you’ve been bowled by a bowler off you go. And I was like yeah you know I but I enjoyed that experience because I was competing against me. How old were you. Oh gosh I would have been about 10 maybe maybe younger.

[00:21:13] And as you grow older is not the opportunity anymore. You get segregated you go to a high school you get segregated put you in they create a girls team so that you can play and sort of just putting you into any team that you’re good enough to play in. I think it’s a really interesting conversation to be had. So Rozlyn timeline for this. What are you what are the next steps from here.

[00:21:32] That’s a good question I suppose for me I suppose because I work in the academic environment I’m really waiting to see the response from other academics and take it sort of see what I never said I know this is a good initial idea that needs a lot of refinement and a lot of thinking through. So I guess I’m looking forward to seeing the work that follows from other academics to see how we can develop the idea further.

[00:21:54] Fantastic. Well we wish you all the very best for your research and we look forward to chatting with you again soon. That was Dr. Roslyn Kerr from Lincoln University. Let’s move on to our final topic for today and I would really love to dedicate an entire episode to the #metoo movement particularly with sport. But what I wanted to discuss this briefly particularly in the light of more stories coming out of the states about gymnasts being sexually assaulted earlier this week four time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles says she was sexually abused by the former USA team position. This comes after a number of other high profile gymnasts shared their experiences regarding sexual abuse by the doctor. Are you shocked by these revelations.

[00:22:37] Not at all. No no no. I think abuse is rife and sport any arena. And what she did to a power imbalance and sport as a masculine masculine ised area is going to happen. And I think metoo has opened the door again to at least people being able to speak up about these experiences and not hiding them or going to ground for young women in particular. It gives them some means of saying win things or at least talking about and asking if things are appropriate. Because often you can get into a very confusing situation as a psychologist I’ve heard many stories which you know we’re dealing with obviously behind a closed door but it’s not right that young people have to be subjected to this kind of pressure and a sporting environment.

[00:23:27] Have you been sexually harassed

[00:23:31] Have I? That’s a good question. I used to be way back and my distance distant past a sports reporter and I was covering a tennis a high profile tennis event at one point and I was in reception at a hotel when a renowned tennis coach came up behind me and put his hand up my skirt which you know at the time you know that era you sort of didn’t say too much other than you know go away yuck but you got on with things because you had a job to do and a career to build and people didn’t talk about those things. And he laughed and on his way. Interestingly I told my boyfriend at the time about the story he was horrified that I forgot about it but I married that boyfriend and just the other day when I we were talking about #metoo he remembered that story. It came straight to the top of his mind. So it shows doesn’t it that you know men good men remember and they don’t want that sort of thing to happen to women either.

[00:24:34] As women in sports you almost get used to it. I know it sounds terrible but you almost get used to the sexual harassment don’t you. And we shouldn’t have to put up with that. The comments and the jibes and the hey baby is on. It happens it happens it happens. What can we do about it. You said about good men don’t want it to happen. But what about the rest of us. What can we do. Particularly in our sporting environment.

[00:24:57] Well I think like we have to we have to give people a means and an obvious process to follow if they feel like they’re in trouble. We have to talk about these things and let people know that they are not appropriate. You know I’ve seen young women pushed into sort of relationships or been slightly groomed by coaches I’ve seen and it’s not you know I’ve seen young boys in the same situation. I’ve also seen young women be pressured by older women athletes lesbians and a little bit of pressure applied in that way and that’s not easy either and I’ve seen a lot of very angry parents who have been trying to deal with these issues. So I think okay. The women’s side of things goes beyond the me too brief but I think that sexual and appropriateness is not good in sport. It is time that we put our hands up and gave people a way of speaking up.

[00:25:53] I was at the cricket recently as we were talking earlier and I was sitting and the Tui Catch Stand – that little area – all good fun – on the embankment surrounded by men. I enjoy being in the environment it’s good fun but whenever a woman who they deem to be attractive walk by they would yell and holler at her and carry on and at the end it really struck a chord with me and in the end I was right. Whenever you boys say anything like that one of you has to take your shirt off and I’m going to holler at you. And they did it again. I was like Alright then so he’d started to take a shirt off as like Hey baby how does it make you feel ooh ooh. And it was fascinating. Yeah it was fascinating watching their response to that and then they stopped. They didn’t say anything to any other woman derogatory terms after that. They were very polite and kind.

[00:26:44] Look what you created Zoe. My friends are saying they’re going oh my god you’re so embarrassing. That’s the actress in you and you love that.

[00:26:51] Let’s move on. Let’s not have that happening and let’s do what you did. Let’s be loud and proud about when we see things that are not right.

[00:27:00] Absolutely. Well I’d be excited to have you back to talk more in depth on the show because it’s an ongoing issue that’s huge and it’s going to get bigger hasn’t it.

[00:27:11] I think so. I think me too will have started away at will as we’ve seen it started away. We’ve seen the gymnast come out. I mean that’s a particularly bad case but for every one of those is a whole lot more sort of hovering behind the scenes with people not being brave enough or scared too scared it will compromise the careers that are that are not able to say anything so let’s let’s make that happen and New Zealand is a small country. So if you have someone an athlete come out they must be.

[00:27:36] Very scared to do something speak up in an environment that’s so small.

[00:27:40] I think so and I think it’s also easier when you’re famous and established to speak out than than if you were still in their fledgling stage of building your career because you know just like we saw in Hollywood careers can be crippled by powerful men doing the wrong thing.

[00:27:57] Well we will continue to discuss #metoo. If you want to share your thoughts on this you can you can find us on social media @wispsports or @rnz is or @producer_zoe. Obviously this is a topic that like I see it as continuing on and on that note can we finish fair play. Thank you to our guest Maia Lewis and Roslyn Kerr and to my fantastic co-host Karen Nimmo always wonderful to have you.

[00:28:21] My pleasure – always fun.

[00:28:24] Behind the microphone. Thank you to RNZ and to executive producer Chris Stafford from WiSP Sports. Follow us on social media. There’s heaps to engage. From sports podcasts around the world with sports to the quirky political and sassy on our. We’ll be back in February with the latest results views and issues on Fair Play including heaps of stuff about the White Ferns. Let’s hope they will do well. I’m Zoe George. Thanks again. And don’t forget to play hard but play fair.




Photo: Maia Lewis [supplied by RNZ]
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