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With more than 1,000 likes since its launch on Friday, a new Facebook initiative called Female Athletes of Boston has garnered significant support among Harvard students. According to its administrators, the page aims to recognize female athletes at the collegiate level for their athletic performance.
Naomi K. Lang ’16, a rower for the Harvard women’s lightweight varsity crew team, said she decided to create the Facebook page after Googling “female athletes” and finding results that “sexualized” women in sports.
“All I could think of was all of the amazing female athletes I know, who will eventually go pro...and them being represented like that,” she said.
After a few days of brainstorming, Lang chose to create a Facebook page featuring female athletes at Harvard as well as other colleges in the Boston area, such as Tufts University.
“I’m going to post photos of women who are athletes in uniform, playing their sport. They’re not going to be off in makeup and heels,” she said.
The page centers on female Harvard athletes from a number of sports teams. Elizabeth C. M. Durack ’17, goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team and a friend of Lang, said the women in the page’s cover photo are portrayed the way she believes they should be, as “tough and fierce.” The cover photo features Durack and Lang as well as other female Harvard athletes from the basketball, track and field, field hockey, and softball teams.
“We as female athletes have noticed that women often get portrayed more for their looks or their personal lives rather than their performance on the field,” Durack said.
She added that she hopes the Facebook page will increase coverage of female athletes in general, citing research showing that “women make up 40 percent of athletes across the world and get 4 percent of media coverage.”
Lang echoed this sentiment, calling on media outlets to provide more coverage of female athletes.
“I think all of the organizations and journalism groups at Harvard can really help this by publicizing female sports,” she said. “It would be cool to do a ‘female athlete of the week.’”
At the same time, the Facebook page seeks to encourage all athletes, regardless of sex. Durack says that Female Athletes of Boston in no way aims to take away from the respect and recognition that male athletes receive. “We want all athletes to get the recognition they deserve,” Durack said.
Lang said she envisions the page expanding to other cities and campuses around the nation. “I want this to become a known website,” she said. “If someone from, say, Stanford reaches out to me and says, ‘We want to do one in California,’ I would be like, ‘Yes!’ ”
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