Dear Reader-ess, I Am Advocating Gender Equality

It´s no secret – the sports industry is dominated by men, and this correlates with the global status quo. Recent statistics show that women hold only 22.5 % of the managerial positions in the sporting goods industry across Germany. For DAX companies, it is only 8.7 %.  

At the same time, the sector discovered „women“ as their new target group. Now everyone is very eager to meet their demands and preferences in both their product lines as well as advertisement. The world of sporting goods becomes more feminine.  

However, let´s not talk numbers but language. Despite the fact that women become increasingly important as customers, I cannot shake the feeling that this reverence does not extend beyond a calculated marketing scheme. Personally, I find it inconceivable why this should be the case. Even writing this column in German, a language that distinguishes between masculine and feminine forms, I was asked to keep to the magazine´s stylesheet and thus diverge from my usual way of writing in a gender-sensitive manner. This is the rule rather than the exception.  

Together with both my female and male colleagues, I have developed strategies and defined language identities for the sporting good sector as well as brand marketers. At first, everyone agrees – “Of course we want to express gender equality!” But as soon as we present more gender-sensitive ways of speaking, the criticism is always the same: “Too artificial, too complicated, it disturbs the flow” – all small things that come with that change.   

The question that occurs to me is what it would take for a company to be brave enough to take that step and leave the trodden course to venture on a new path. I know one thing for sure: the potential is promising, and to re-think the language we live by and do business with will pay off. To approach the new target group „women“ at eye-level will be rewarding and worth it.