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A recent study conducted by Deakin University sheds light on the prevalence and consequences of gendered online harm experienced by elite sportswomen. The research found that a significant majority of elite female athletes, nine out of ten, have encountered various forms of online abuse, including trolling, hate speech, and attempts to embarrass them.

Surveying 138 professional and semi-professional athletes across 32 different sports, the study highlighted the detrimental effects of online harm on the mental well-being, economic opportunities, and social media presence of these athletes. The findings underscored the pressing need for cultural change within sporting organizations to effectively address and combat gendered online harm.

The study emphasized that maintaining a social media presence has become a necessity for athletes, with over 97% recognizing its importance for professional profiles and sponsorships. However, the research revealed that a staggering 85% of athletes reported their well-being being negatively impacted by online abuse, leading to changes in online behavior, such as posting less and avoiding sensitive topics.

Furthermore, the study pointed out that diverse groups of women, including LGBTQI+ individuals and women of color, experience online harm differently and may face challenges in receiving adequate support from sporting organizations. This lack of support highlights the need for sporting institutions to address and rectify the systemic issues that perpetuate gendered online harm.

In conclusion, the study underscores the urgency for a shift in culture within sporting organizations to tackle online abuse effectively and ensure the well-being and safety of elite sportswomen. By acknowledging and actively combating gendered online harm, the sports industry can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all athletes.


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Article Title: Most sportswomen experience gendered online harm, affecting wellbeing, research says
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