Last summer, the Women’s Law Project conducted a 10-day examination of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in an attempt to find out how much coverage the sports section of the newspaper devoted to female athletes. Notable findings included:
- Zero instances of front-page coverage of women’s sports and/or female athletes
- No full-length articles in the paper regarding women’s sports and/or female athletes
- Zero pictures of female athletes were featured in the paper
- An average of 1.14% of the sports section was devoted to women’s sports.
Given these dire statistics, we were pleasantly surprised to find that Sunday’s PG featured big stories about two incredible female athletes and role models: a front page story on swimmer Mimi Hughes, who is beginning a 981 mile swim in the Ohio River this week in Pittsburgh to fundraise for Women Across the World, and a story and picture about 16-year-old Australian sailor Jessica Watson, who recently became the youngest person to sail around the world.
The goal of Hughes’s 981 mile journey, according to the organization’s website, is:
to raise funds and awareness for organizations that support the life skills and academic education of girls. The swim will focus on select organizations from the rural and urban areas of the Ohio River Valley to the remote and fragile environments of the Middle East and Africa that effectively promote education in girls and women. In return, these women and girls will transform themselves, their families and their communities.
Hughes is no novice in swimming long distances—often in filthy and polluted water—for social causes that are important to her. According to the PG,
She once swam the length of the Tennessee River—652 miles—in 2003 to call attention to pollution. She swam three freezing miles across the Bering Strait from Russia to the United States in 197 to raise awareness of social and environmental issues. Similar concerns spurred her in 2006 to swim 1800 miles through numerous countries along the Danube River followed by a 400-mile event in the Drava and Mura rivers in central Europe.
Hughes will depart from the Monongahela Ward at 9 am on Saturday, and plans to swim about 20 miles—8 hours—a day, putting her journey at about 33 days.
Watson, on the other hand, completed an incredible, record-breaking journey on Saturday, when she sailed into Sydney Harbor and became the youngest person to sail around the globe solo, non-stop, and unassisted. Watson, after being alone at sea for 210 days, said that “[p]eople don’t think you’re capable of these things—they don’t realize what young people, what 16-year olds and girls are capable of…It’s amazing when you take away those expectations what you can do.”
Watson and Hughes are both incredible role models for young athletes, girls and boys, and we are encouraged by the fact that the Post-Gazette has made covering their accomplishments, and sharing their stories, a priority for its readers.