Every Tuesday we release the Siren newsletter. Our newsletter was how we initially launched Siren: A Women in Sport Collective and it’s a great way to keep track of all things women in sport.
Siren 37: Belinda Clarke, NRLW begins, Super Netball finals & more
The Australian women’s cricket team returned to the field on Saturday afternoon and didn’t we love it! While we may have been lamenting that we couldn’t meet in a delightfully sunny beer garden somewhere and watch together, there was plenty of joy to be had watching Ash Gardner and Alyssa Healy and Sophie Molineux do their thing.
It’s an incredibly exciting time for women’s sport in Australia. Cricket is back and the WBBL isn’t far away. The Suncorp Super Netball finals are kicking off this weekend, as is the NRLW. And a week from today, the 2020 AFLW draft is happening.
The AFLW draft holds a special place in our hearts as it was the 2019 draft event where the early plans for Siren were hatched, one year ago this week.
After seeing each other at various AFLW events since the league’s inception, this time last year a few Siren co-founders decided that after years of talk, it was time to finally band together and try to build something special.
We could not have imagined the journey we would go on together over the next twelve months. The amazing athletes and administrators and academics we would have the opportunity to interview. The new sports we would learn about and cover. The incredible and passionate community we would find. The level of support we would receive. And the fun we would have delivering our weekly newsletter, always trying our best to elevate and celebrate the wonderful women in sport who deserve our attention. We also could not have imagined the new and scary world we would be living in.
We can’t meet at the AFLW draft this year to celebrate the next group of young women who can chase their footy dreams in the league’s fifth season. We can’t grab the post event coffee and chat through our master plans to change the women in sport media landscape. We can’t even meet to get a coffee!
But where we come together now is here, in this special place we built for ourselves, and for you, so we always have a space to continue the women in sport chats over a cuppa, no matter where in the world we are.
Siren 36: Rising Phoenix, Kelly Defina, grassroots data with Alyssa Longmuir & more
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
These are the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, who died last week.
As a woman in a traditionally very masculine space, Bader Ginsburg became a symbol for a kind of progressive feminism that championed bringing women’s voices to the fore.
Change requires more than just symbols. We saw this in action over the weekend in Super Netball’s Indigenous Round. Prior to the weekend, Liz Ellis, the most-capped Australian netball player in history wrote that “it’s time to have an honest conversation about why the league has only one Indigenous player across eight teams”.
That one player is Queensland Firebird Jemma Mi Mi, who was front and centre for Indigenous round but noticeably absent from the court.
“I’d say my Aboriginality made me invisible.”—that’s what Marcia Ella-Duncan, the first Indigenous woman to represent the Diamonds, said over the weekend when reflecting on her netball career. Ella-Duncan said that while she had a wonderful career, there hasn’t been enough support given to Indigenous athletes.
Only one other Indigenous woman has played for the Diamonds since Ella-Duncan—Sharon Finnan-White who retired two decades ago. Two in 179. It’s hard to understand those numbers given netball has one of the highest participation rates in the country.
The Queensland Firebirds released a statement following Sunday’s game but for many, it missed the mark.
Encouragingly, Netball Australia’s response to the criticism has been positive. Chief executive Marne Fechner said they had to ‘own it’.
“We’ve made a commitment to Sharon [Finnan-White] and Marcia [Ella-Duncan] that we are not comfortable with the fact we haven’t seen Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Diamonds for a while … we want it to be better,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Notorious RBG, as she became affectionately known, also said that “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception”.
Crucially, when women are in the room and have a seat at the table, we see change. What we need now is all kinds of women in all the places to break down barriers to inclusion and equity. We win when we all have a voice in those places
Despite the ways in which netball hasn’t loved her, Ella-Duncan believes that “the solutions have to come from within the great game itself. The one I love”.
We hope that the sports we love continue to bring more women and more voices together to make meaningful changes.
Siren 35: Cathy Freeman, Nat Medhurst, Kiara Bowers & more
Last Sunday night we were transported 20 years back in time to relive Cathy Freeman’s historic 400m gold medal race at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
Freeman, the Cathy Freeman documentary which aired on ABC TV, was a masterclass in storytelling and a mesmerising blend of sport, art and historical context. Cathy Freeman’s recollection of the actual 400m final is spine-tingling in the retelling, and confirmation of the otherworldly experience felt by the 100,000 people in the stadium that night. Even though we all know the result, reliving it was still nerve wracking.
We are a young nation, and in many ways, the 2000 Olympics were our coming of age. Our opportunity to share the best of us with the rest of the world. At the centre of this was Cathy Freeman, a proud Indigenous woman from the oldest and most enduring culture on earth.
Throughout the documentary we learn that Cathy Freeman is not just an athlete who set out to achieve Olympic glory. She is a woman of her culture, of this land and of her ancestors who endured through adversity. She is also a woman who inspired an entire generation of young Australians.
At the Commonwealth Games in 1994, she was the first athlete to run a lap of honour with both the Australian and Aboriginal flags. Proudly declaring that she was Australian and Aboriginal. Because as individuals, we are not just one thing. We are complex and a beautiful concoction of all that has come before.
On September 25, 2000 she brought an entire nation together at a point in history in which we were finally beginning to learn and acknowledge our uncomfortable past (and present). Historical context plays an important role and perhaps it is no coincidence that the youngsters Cathy inspired that night are the adults of today who are renewing demands for justice for Indigenous Australians. If that’s not the power of sport, we’re not sure what is.
Siren 34: Golf history, #WitnessFearless, my favourite sporting moment & more
September 7-11 is Women’s Health Week in Australia.
Now more than ever, we need to look after ourselves and the wonderful women in our lives. Our health is always important, but while the current state of the world is keeping us apart and inside, health—physical and emotional—is something we really need to keep in check. And we know that’s no easy task.
The Women’s Health Week website says:
“With the stress COVID-19 has placed on everyone’s lives, it’s now more important than ever to look after your overall health and wellbeing. This September, Women’s Health Week will be a great reminder to take time out to check in on your health and to keep making positive changes that can last a lifetime.”
The greatest thing that we co-founders have learnt through creating Siren is the value of relationships. The connections we’ve been able to form with more people in the women in sport community and the genuine friendships and allies we’ve made. These are invaluable.
So we’d like our community to use Women’s Health Week to check in on yourselves, check in on your friends, and use the power of this fabulous community that we have to give you the boost you might be needing or be that boost to a buddy who might need some support.
Check out the events and resources Women’s Health Week has on and know that we’re all out here, always, to look after each other. That’s why the women in sport community is so wonderful. We’ve got each other.
Siren 33: Loving sports when they don’t love you back, a Siren podcast & more
Last week we watched the women of the WNBA deliver a powerful message of protest through their boycott of Wednesday night’s games in response to the police shooting of Black man, Jacob Blake.
In Power Plays, Lindsay Gibbs details the lead up to the historic decision and delves into the history of the WNBA’s activism. Importantly, she points out that characterising the decision of the women of the WNBA as a “mere footnote of the NBA’s protest is an act of erasure”.
As Lindsay writes, the women of the WNBA, especially the Black women, have been engaged in activism for years. They’ve held press conferences about systemic racism, they’ve held a rally for Planned Parenthood and participated in media blackouts to direct focus to their social justice causes. The players dedicated the 2020 WNBA season to the #BlackLivesMatter and #SayHerName movements. The boycott on Wednesday continues their activism, it doesn’t begin it.
Some of the activism of the WNBA was done without the support of the league. Which fits with the broader narrative around protest and sport. Protest is, by its very nature, provocative. It objects. It disagrees. It dissents. It shines a light and it asks questions. It demands we think, learn, act.
Protest is political.
While many would like to cling to the misguided belief that sport is apolitical, it’s simply not. Politics is something that is intrinsically a part of sport, traceable to it’s very beginnings. It’s even more entwined when those playing are marginalised by gender or race, or both.
Women in sport have always had to be trailblazers. They’ve had to build their own pathways and create their own leagues and competitions. They’ve had to demand access to public facilities and when they couldn’t get it, they’ve had to build their own. They’ve had to push back against the cultural and social norms that long kept them from the sports they loved.
They’ve had to protest.
Siren 32: Lauren Parker, community footy, Deakin program & more
Long the spiritual home of the AFLW, Princes(s) Park could soon be transformed from its current tired state to the ‘centre of Victoria’s professional women’s AFL’. It’s news that will be music to the ears of fans who could be enjoying the updated facilities as early as the 2021 season. The transformation is expected to include updated change rooms and amenities for the women’s league alongside a women’s sports injury prevention and research centre and a women’s coaching education hub.
As encouraging as the news about the upgrade of Princes(s) Park is, the news this week about the VFLW is not quite as rosy.
Changes seem certain for the 2021 VFLW season with reports that competition will move to align with the AFLW season. The Victorian state league would join the QAFLW and the SANFLW in aligning with the AFLW competition. The change would provide greater opportunity for players to play their way into the senior team, but there are still plenty of questions to be answered. Particularly about what any changes could mean for non-AFLW aligned clubs.
That announcement, however, was overshadowed on Monday by the incredibly disappointing news that the Richmond Football Club would not field a team in the VFLW in 2021.
What does this decision say about Richmond’s commitment to women’s football? And if the AFL let the Tigers leave the VFLW, what does it say about their commitment? There is simply no excuse for a club like Richmond, with all its resources, to walk away from the VFLW.
It’s salt in the wound of clubs like the St Kilda Sharks, Diamond Creek and the Eastern Devils who were forced from the state league in 2017 despite solid records growing and developing the game for women and girls. Julia Chiera of the Darebin Falcons shared this twitter thread about it all.
Women’s sport is not expendable. Not now. Not ever.
Siren 31: the importance of Indigenous role models, the digital revolution of women’s sport & AFLW trade wrap
Australian swimmer Chloe McCardel swam her way into the record books over the weekend, completing her 35th—yes, you read that correctly—crossing of the English Channel.
McCardel swam the 35 kilometres—from the south-east coast of England to northern France—a remarkable four times in only 16 days to reach the milestone, breaking the men’s record for the number of crossings while at the same time earning second spot for the women’s record.
Last month McCardel was granted an exemption by the Australian government that allowed her to travel to the UK and make her record-breaking attempt. Now she sits only eight crossings behind the all-time record holder Alison Streeter, a British long-distance swimmer.
Two women holding those records is something we can absolutely celebrate!
Speaking of breaking records, Cricket Australia released their Annual Australian Cricket Census last week and there was plenty to celebrate there.
According to the census, female participation grew by 11.4 percent, contributing to a doubling of female participation in only four years. Alongside that growth, the census revealed a 25 percent increase in the number of girls in the Woolworths Cricket Blast program. That growth has encouraged an increase in the number of girls teams in junior competitions.
They’re certainly healthy numbers, and a testament to the work Cricket Australia has done to grow and develop the women’s game. More encouragingly, they don’t seem content to rest on their laurels with Belinda Clarke, Cricket Australia’s Executive General Manager of Community Cricket also announcing that Cricket Australia will soon launch a ‘new female participation strategy to accelerate this momentum’.
We are very here for taking women’s sport seriously!
As exciting as it is to see these numbers from Cricket Australia, this week we were also reminded that many women in sport are still having to make some tricky decisions. Rebecca Beeson, who plays for the Giants in the AFLW, wrote about the precarious nature of pursuing a career in the AFLW. Following Beeson’s piece, we learned that Ellie Brush, also from the Giants, and Carlton’s Chloe Dalton would step away from the AFLW in 2021 to focus on their Olympic pursuits. They join the Western Bulldogs Aisling Utri, who stepped away from the game prior to the 2020 season to focus on her hockey career, and Adelaide’s Maisie Nankivell making the hard decision to pursue her career in netball at the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
Whether Brush, Dalton, Utri or Nankivell return to the AFLW remains to be seen, and it isn’t really the point. It’s the having to choose, it’s the precarious nature of many women’s sports. It’s, as Beeson writes, ‘the possibility that I’ll be done with football in my 30s, with only a couple of dollars to my name and no proper career path to step into’.
That is something that should be right at the top of any professional sporting body’s list of concerns.
Siren 30: Christy Collier-Hill, By The White Line and women’s sport merch
It’s with sadness that we mark the passing of a pioneer of Australian cricket, Lorna Beal (née Larter). Lorna debuted for Australia in 1948 in the first women’s Test match Australia played against New Zealand.
A right-handed batter and wicketkeeper, Lorna first started playing cricket when she was only 12. She later played for the Hawthorn Ladies Cricket Club in the Victorian Women’s Cricket Association where she was part of a very successful team that won multiple premierships throughout the 1930s.
Lorna’s 1948 debut was followed by six more Tests for Australia. She played her final match during Australia’s 1951 tour of England after which she retired.
We honour Lorna’s legacy as a pioneer of her sport and of women’s sport more broadly.
Lorna played cricket at a time when women playing sport faced significant obstacles and challenges. The work she, her teammates, opponents and supporters did paved the way for women today to take to the field or the court and play the sport they love.
Women like Jamie Howell who is profoundly deaf and plays Aussie rules for the Yeronga South Brisbane Devils in Queensland. Over the weekend, the club shared footage of Howell’s teammates celebrating a win by signing the club’s song in Auslan. A grinning Howell can be seen signing ‘thank you’ in response.
It’s a reminder of just how good sport can be when it’s at its best. But it’s also a reminder that changing the way we communicate, or thinking more creatively about how we communicate can help us to create opportunities for real inclusion that can have real impacts beyond the footy field or the cricket pitch.
Sport can be a driver for social change—if we let it. It can also be a place for collaboration. And that’s something we embrace at Siren. So we’re excited to welcome our second official Siren Collaborator: Rachel Bach! You might know Rachel as the brains and talent behind By The White Line. We featured Rachel’s incredible work earlier this year and we’re thrilled to welcome her to Siren.
A quick note for our Super Netball fans—so everyone—you can find our Round 2 wrap up right here.
Siren 29: Molly Strano, federal funding decisions and Super Netball
There’s never a shortage of women in sport stories for us to cover, but this week has been extra busy for us all. And we’re here for it!
This weekend saw the 2020 Super Netball season finally launch in its new Queensland hub. With three state derbies taking place, a host of rule changes designed to help teams cope with a condensed fixture and plenty of opportunities for some new faces to hit the court, the weekend certainly delivered. And it wasn’t glamorous at all. It was perfect. A number of those youngsters had a big say in the games, including the impressive debut of Tippah Dwan at the Firebirds and Kate Eddy at the Vixens.
Debate about the two-point ‘super shot’ continued across the weekend, but Jo Harten from the Giants was pretty clear about her thoughts!
The AFLW Trade and Sign period began yesterday and Gemma has her brain firmly focused on trade updates—stay tuned for her comprehensive analysis once the dust settles. We’ve already seen Sarah Hosking make the jump from Carlton to Richmond, Grace Campbell shock Tigers fans by leaving for the Kangaroos and Jayde Van Dyk reunite with her ex-VFLW coach Paddy Hill at the Saints.
Another thing that’s caught our attention has been the somewhat odd scheduling of this year’s Women’s Indian Premier League cricket competition from November 1 to 10, landing smack bang in the middle of the already fixtured WBBL tournament. Alyssa Healy was quick to point this out.
Plenty to talk about and plenty of stories to tell—as there always is in the wonderful world of women’s sports!
Siren 28: Super Netball preview, Kelley O’Hara & AFLW trade and sign period
At Siren, we’re always advocating for language and stories that make sports coverage and media a more inclusive, diverse and respectful place.
The language we choose to use, the narratives we adhere to and the framing we select are important. They’re not small things—accessories to the main story. They’re big things. And when we get them wrong, we cannot underestimate the ramifications.
This weekend, something that at first glance may have seemed small—both in impact and size—was published in a newspaper about the upcoming return of the Super Netball. We don’t want to repost it. We’re sure you can find it if you’ve not already seen it.
It was a ‘rating and review’ of the upcoming Suncorp Super Netball season in the TV schedule section. It wasn’t a season preview in the sports pages, it wasn’t an opinion piece or a feature—the stories that were missing from sports coverage this week. It was a few sentences, a paragraph, to highlight the broadcast. A little something to shine a light on the sport. But it’s language, and it’s framing, was in such a way that it was harmful, disrespectful and damaging. It may have been small in size, but its impact wasn’t.
Dr Bridie O’Donnell, the Director for the Office of Women in Sport and Recreation in Victoria said yesterday, “On the weekend, one newspaper gave a rating [and] review to Super Netball, the world’s premier domestic netball league—tip off Aug 1. We’re excited to see these amazing athletes in action, but we want Aussie journalists to #DoBetter [and] value our athletes equally”.
The media makes mistakes. No one is perfect and we include ourselves in this. We will make mistakes too. But what prevents these mistakes—these small things that can hurt so many people—is diversity, accountability and a fundamental respect for women and women’s sport. And that’s where we’ll always strive to be different and hopefully play a role in driving change.
Doing better is the least we can do.
Siren 27: Nicola Carey, Matildas Abroad, NSFA’s Female Football plan & more
Our beautiful friends over at The Outer Sanctum podcast, used their show last week to not only deliver their usual delightful, informed and funny football chat, but also to spend some time talking and reflecting about what’s good right now.
It can be harder for some to name that ‘one good thing’. Some, like most of the co-founders of Siren, are in Melbourne under another lockdown in the midst of a scary second wave. Some of us are around the country with a bit more freedom but are wondering what might happen if the numbers don’t go down here soon. Some of us are dealing with the pandemic in many different ways from all around the world. It’s different for everyone and it’s hard, and complicated and uncertain.
But we hope that for some of you, Siren can be your one good thing today and bring you some comfort and distraction with some #womeninsport stories.
For us, our one good thing today, is you.
Our readers. Our community. Our supporters. You are what makes us smile and keeps us motivated to champion women in sport.
Thanks for being there for us, and we’ll always be there for you.
Thanks to everyone who sent kind words about the launch of our brand spankin’ new website! We’re looking forward to continuing to build this space that celebrates and elevates women in sport and gives a platform to diverse voices.
Siren 26: website updates, the missing history of netball, fencing & more
We have been busy bees this week working on our brand new website!
We hope you love it as much as we do!
When we started Siren, we began with a weekly newsletter, but after six months—time sure flies when you’re having this much fun—of delivering women in sport stories, interviews and analysis, we wanted a space that you could visit to easily find the content you want.
Our newsletter will continue to drop our latest right to your inbox every Tuesday, but if you ever want to look through our archives, shop for merch or share the stories you love, sirensport.com.au is your one stop shop!
While we were working away on the website in the background, we asked the amazing Shireen Ahmed to take over the newsletter last week. She was outstanding.
Thank you to everyone who responded to, connected with and shared Shireen’s beautiful piece on the power of sport. We were honoured to publish her work and see its impact.
Our #SirenSport badges are still making their way all around the world and recently touched down in Germany!
We were blown away by the initial response to our badges so we’ve restocked and you can buy them here. All profits go directly to supporting the work we’re doing here at Siren.
Siren 25: Transforming the World
We have a very special newsletter for you this week.
Siren was founded to share the stories in sport we don’t often get to hear, to amplify voices, to celebrate wonderful women in sport and to listen and learn from experiences different to our own. Story sharing is so important, and sport allows for so many different stories that are more than just the stats and box scores. Stories connect us, sport inspires us, and when we open up spaces to allow for more sports stories, we can see just how much power and potential sport has to transform the world.
This week, our feature story comes to you from Canadian writer and award-winning sports activist, Shireen Ahmed.
You might know Shireen from her work on one of our favourite feminist sports podcasts, Burn it All Down, or from her powerful TEDx Talk, or from following her on twitter, or you might be learning about her work for the first time today. Shireen is a powerhouse, and listing all her qualities and credentials will be near impossible but what we think you need to know about Shireen is that she is an incredibly talented writer, a passionate and powerful advocate, a no-BS commentator, an amazing mother and a super Canadian sports fan—so we’re hoping for an Australia v Canada match in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup when hopefully she can come visit us!
We’re so excited to feature this piece by Shireen this week as we continue to work to keep conversations going and the fight alive for driving social change through the power of sport.
Siren 24: Australia/NZ 2023, Women in Boots & an AFLW off-season update
The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is coming to Australia and New Zealand and WE ARE EXCITED!!!
There will never be enough feel good stories and heartfelt tweets to express all the emotions felt by football fans as the impacts of the announcement resonated across the two countries and really, across the world.
And it’s not just football fans. Everyone who wants to see women’s sport thrive got around the announcement which truly illuminated the best quality that the women in sport community has: that we all support each other.
Australia’s national women’s teams all shared in the celebration of the announcement. Just as they did when the T20 Women’s World Cup was here earlier this year and the Australian women won in front of a record breaking crowd. Just as they did when FIBA announced the 2022 World Cup would be in Australia. And just as they will do for netball as Netball Australia announced today that it has taken its next step towards hosting the Netball World Cup 2027 in Sydney by submitting its official bid.There are no code wars in women’s sport. We’re here for each other, and we’re stronger for it.
Bring on 2023, 2022, the return of women’s sport post Covid-19 and more and more amazing women in sport moments.
Siren 23: Beth Mooney, 2023 Women’s World Cup & the right to shorts
For many of us, our emotional connection to sport is what drives our love. Whether it’s growing up watching the cricket with our grandmother’s or going to the footy with our aunty or playing netball on a cold Saturday morning with our best mates, sport is as emotional as it is political. It reflects every facet of our lives.
That emotional connection we have to sport is at the heart of research released by True North last week that revealed who our favourite sports teams are. It’ll likely come as no surprise to members of the Siren community that it was women that topped that list of our favourites.
Taking out the number one spot was the Australian women’s cricket team, who earlier this year won the T20 World Cup in front of a record crowd at the MCG. The Matilda’s, the women’s rugby sevens team and the Diamonds round out the top four.
That these four national teams could rank so highly despite the consistently disappointing coverage of women’s sport in mainstream media, speaks volumes about the power of women’s sport.
It’s pretty clear that we love these remarkable women and their incredible feats on the field. The research demonstrates that we feel a connection to them and their stories. And there are stories aplenty! So what exactly is the roadblock here in terms of mainstream coverage?
As our friends at the Outer Sanctum would say (and we agree!): open. the. door.
Siren 22: the role sports must play as one for change
In less than ten days, the FIFA Council will vote on the hosting rights for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. As Samantha Lewis wrote for Siren last week, the #AsOne bid from Australia and New Zealand is not just about bringing the World Cup to the region, the bid ‘embraces the moment that women’s sport is currently experiencing, while also acknowledging the central role women have played in the development of not just sport, but all of modern life.’
And there is a moment happening in Australia.
Earlier this year, the 2020 ICC T20 Women’s World Cup saw 86,174 pack the MCG on International Women’s Day. Only a few weeks after the T20 World Cup, FIBA announced that the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, the world’s largest international women’s basketball competition, was coming to Australia in 2022. To add the FIFA Women’s World Cup to that list, would see three huge tournaments in three years on Australian soil.
These significant competitions propel women’s sport forward but they also reveal how much more work we have to do, from the grassroots to the elite.
And for this reason, as sports look to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 with more restrictions lifting soon across the nation, we must focus keenly on that work. Before the world was hit with the novel coronavirus, we had some wins, made some strides, broke some records, but we still had a lot to do, and now more than ever, we need to keep going, together, as one.
Siren 21: Ash Gardner, Women in Boots, Australia’s World Cup bid & more
We stand in solidarity with Australia’s First Nations people, Black Americans and People of Colour all over the world in the fight against systemic, oppressive and life-threatening racism.
We all have a part to play in ending racism that has been entrenched in our societies for far too long.
Our mission at Siren is to elevate women’s voices, alongside other diverse and marginalised voices to deliver feminist content that challenges the status quo of sport media.
Media has a role to play in ending racism. Sport has a role to play in ending racism. We have a role to play in ending racism.
We’re a small platform, but we can and will do more. We will take more action and continue to put our energy and resources towards ensuring more voices are heard on Siren.
If you want to help us elevate more voices, consider becoming a paid supporter for $5 a month, buying a badge set or making a donation. All profits we make will go into commissioning more diverse women’s sports coverage from diverse women.
We’ll continue to work, learn and listen. We’re in this. We will not give up.
Siren 20: Reflecting & launching our new merch!
Welcome to issue 20 of Siren!
Whether you’ve been a Siren subscriber from day one or have joined us along the way, thank you so much for being on this journey with us.
The co-founders of Siren built this platform to add more to the coverage of women’s sports, to give voice to women in sport who too often aren’t getting the coverage they deserve and to share the stories of women in sports history who we never want to forget and can always learn from.
We came to this project with mostly AFLW experience, and after twenty newsletters, we’re proud to have been able to build on our collective knowledge, cover more sports in more ways, and bring in some experts to give their insights on a variety of sports and issues.
In this issue, we want to share some of the highlights of our first twenty newsletters in case you missed them, reminisce about some of our personal favourites, and share with you some of our most read pieces. We’re learning so much about what you’re loving from the numbers and it’s across a variety of sports and different kinds of reporting which is so exciting to see!
We also have a very special announcement! We are launching our brand new merchandise range!
Finding women’s sports merchandise is hard work, just ask our friend Lindsay Gibbs, creator of the newsletter Power Plays. We want to create some great products to help fill this void and allow fans to wear their love for women’s sports on their sleeve.
We’re starting with this badge collection. Which you can purchase right now!
Our three badges—I ❤ Women’s Sport (58mm), Women’s Sport is Not Expendable (44mm) & Strong Willed Women (44mm)—are available in a pack or individually right here.
We’re just dipping our toe into the world of merch at the moment but if there’s something you’d love to see, whatever it might be, let us know! You can contact us by replying to this email, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or let us know on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
All profits from the sales of Siren merch will go directly back into Siren to keep us going and allow us to commission more great content from women’s sports experts who don’t get nearly enough opportunities.
Siren 19: Rowie Webster, Rudi Ellis, By The White Line & more
When the Toyko Olympics and Paralympics were postponed a few weeks ago, it was a blow for athletes who had been preparing and training for years for the ultimate event. It was a similar situation facing athletes playing sports across the country from the grassroots to the elite. How do you push through something like that? What gets you through the uncertainty?
“I think the cool thing about athletes is we’re really resilient. Whatever is thrown at us, we go ‘alright, let’s just take it in our stride’.”
Rowie Webster, captain of the Australian Water Polo team.
Resilience is a common theme in many stories of elite athletes. And it’s a common theme in this week’s newsletter too. But so too is the realisation of dreams.
Siren 18: Rosie King, Sam Gooden, American football & more
The past week has brought some positive news about community and elite sports getting back to the field and court in the not too distant future. We’re keeping everything crossed here that we’ll soon see our favourite athletes back doing their thing.
In the meantime, while we wait patiently we’ll keep telling stories, talking to women in sport doing great things and sharing remarkable stories from the history of women’s sport.
But we’re also throwing our support behind Football Federation Australia (FFA) and New Zealand Football (NZF) in their bid to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 ahead of the announcement next month.
The As One bid is one that we enthusiastically support, particularly the desire of the FFA and NZF to ‘drive gender equality, diversity and inclusion’ and the push to create more opportunities and increase participation for women and girls in sport. You can read more about the bid in Siren Call.
If you’d like to become a Siren Supporter, you can do so for just $5 a month or you can get a yearly Siren Supporter subscription for $60 upfront. We run on the generosity of our supporters, we do what we do because of you so thank you!
Siren 17: Halftime Huddle, Macy Gardner, Hayley Miller & more
How heartwarming and lovely was it on Sunday to see social media feeds full of messages about amazing #womeninsport mums! From mums supporting their daughters’ sporting dreams to athletes balancing their sporting lives with motherhood, seeing all the love coming through sure lifted our spirits and made us think of all the wonderful women in our world.
We know it can also be a hard day and if Mother’s Day is a tough day for you, we’re sending love and support.
We celebrate women in sport all day everyday, but to the sporting mums, the grandmas, the sisters, the friends, the carers, the mentors, the teachers, the women we look up to, the women who are inspiring the next generation of trailblazers and ceiling-breakers – we thank you for being women who support women, for leading the way, for making the world a better place for more strong willed women to make the world their own.
Today we also want to celebrate with our community a very special announcement…
We have teamed up with Halftime Huddle in our first ever official Siren collaboration!
Halftime Huddle are #womeninsport podcasters Sarah Burt and Taylor Capannolo and we’re thrilled that we can share their awesome work with you.
We have an interview with Siren co-founders Gemma Bastiani and Kasey Symons with Sarah and Taylor where you can learn more about them, what our approach to a collaboration with this team looks like and what bonus content you’ll get included in your weekly Siren newsletters!
We hope you enjoy their work as much as we do!
Finally, we want to thank our supporters who joined us for our first virtual trivia night last Friday. Our first trivia night was ALFW themed and we had so much fun catching up with everyone, talking footy and getting some history lessons in the breaks from Kirby! We hope to put on many more supporter only events with different sport themes to show our appreciation.
If you’d like to become a supporter, you can do so for just $5 a month or you can pay the $60 for a yearly subscription upfront. We run on the generosity of our supporters, we do what we do because of you.
Siren 16: Daphne Hilton, Melissa Hickey on Nicole Callinan and Ine-Mari Venter
Last Sunday afternoon, Siren co-founder Kirby Fenwick watched the documentary Never Say Die Matildas for our #SirenRewatch and tweeted her thoughts.
One of the quotes she highlighted was about the growth of women’s football.
‘If it’s resourced properly, we can make huge strides.’
It’s such a simple point but it’s one we seem to have to make over and over again. That point was reinforced this week when we learnt that the USWNT lost their bid for equal pay. Their fight will no doubt continue. And so too does ours for equality in the coverage of women’s sport.
In some wonderful news, our collaboration with Swinburne to record the coverage of women’s sport in mainstream media will continue through May. Plus we’ve also got plenty of great women in sport content for you this week.
And we have lots of fun planned, kicking off with our first ever Siren (Virtual) Trivia Night this Friday night! If you’re a Siren Supporter and you haven’t secured your spot yet, well, what are you waiting for!
Siren 15: Profiling She Scores, Kate Moloney and Nicole Callinan on Melissa Hickey
Every week we try to honour, celebrate and amplify the voices of women in sport.
It doesn’t matter if women’s sport is not on the TV, not in the newspapers, not at premium stadiums, not funded, not paid or not even being played. We’re here, and we’re here for women doing their best to keep women in sport as a key conversation during these uncertain times.
We’d like to dedicate this newsletter to a very special woman in sport in particular. South Australian sportswoman, Eileen Amos recently passed away aged 105.
Amos was a champion lawn bowler, winning many club titles and a state title for SA. She also was a tennis player and netballer. Her family has thrown out the challenge to see if there was anyone else with a sporting pedigree, who could match or even beat her longevity.
We hope where Eileen is now, there’s a bowls green, tennis and netball courts, and hopefully adequate coverage of women’s sports so stories like hers are never missed. Rest in the most peace Eileen.
Siren 14: Kate Shierlaw, favourite sporting moment & list retrospective
Last week we announced our exciting partnership with Swinburne to track the mainstream media coverage of women’s sport across the month of April. The results last week were, well, not great. And things don’t look any better this week.
We also brought you three incredible original pieces last week. Gemma spoke with Michelle Cooling from the Sydney Swans, Kirby discussed coaching and all things rugby with former Wallaroo and Melbourne Rebels head coach, Alana Thomas and we shared a beautiful piece from Kasey after her mum set up a chat with Olympic basketball legend, Rachael Sporn.
We did all this with very limited resources.
Women have been playing sport for a very long time in this country, from the amateur to the professional. There’s decades upon decades of history (just ask Kirby, she’ll tell you!) not to mention thousands of women playing hundreds of sports across the country right now—all of them with a story to tell. There are state and national competitions, many of which have been running for years. There’s administrators and coaches that have had amazing influence on their sports. There’s been how many Olympics and Paralympics, with how many women athletes doing amazing things?
The interesting and fascinating and funny and engaging stories are there. What’s missing is the desire to find them, to write about them, to share them. Luckily for you, we have desire to burn around here!
We’ve got lots of good stuff for you this week and plenty more in the pipeline, so stay tuned!
The Siren Rewatch continues over on Twitter with plenty of debate and laughs. Don’t miss this week’s schedule below and join us for another delightful trip down memory lane.
In a couple of weeks time, we’ll be running the first [virtual] Siren Trivia Night! This will be open exclusively to our Siren Supporters. If that’s you, keep an eye out for an email very soon with all the details. If you’re not already a Siren Supporter, but you want in on our exclusive online events, you can support Siren for $5/month right here.
And lastly, Siren has launched a dedicated Facebook page where we hope to share lots of great stories with you as well as have some fun. So if you’re on the platform, head over and give us a like.
Siren 13: Alana Thomas, Rachael Sporn & Michelle Cooling
When the founders of Siren came together to create this platform, we realised that we were not only connected through a passion to contribute more coverage of women’s sports and share more stories, but to also ensure that we continued to highlight the stark reality that is the current media landscape for women’s sports.
There have been so many amazing things that have advanced women’s sport recently, from record attendances to huge growth in participation, particularly at the grassroots level. But so far, these advancements, as wonderful as they are, have not dramatically changed how women’s sport is covered in the mainstream media and subsequently how women’s sport is valued, especially by those with the power to make real change.
We usually publish weekly statistics on how women’s sport has been covered by the mainstream media. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve pulled back as the world of sport came to a grinding halt.
We’re in an uncertain time now and it’s scary for so many reasons and we don’t mean to diminish any of that for anyone. But over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a significant impact on women’s sport. Numbers that were once not great are now even worse.
But there is some good news! Siren has partnered with Swinburne University of Technology’s Sport Innovation Research Group to increase our monitoring of the coverage of women’s sport in mainstream media during this time.
We know it’s a tough time. There’s no live sport. Journalists are being stood down. Media is hurting. But sport is still being covered, and women are still being excluded.
While we continue to monitor and record the coverage of women’s sport in the mainstream media, we’re also working hard to bring you the kinds of stories that we know you want to read including interviews with women in sport, be they coaches or administrators or (!!) Olympians. There may not be any live sport to cover right now there are still plenty of stories to tell and we’re determined to continue doing just that.
Siren 12: Netball history, AFLW statistical leaders, rewatch schedule & more
On March 31, 2019, a record-breaking 53,034 fans piled into Adelaide Oval – this broke not only the attendance record for women’s Australian rules football but the record for any standalone women’s sporting event in Australia.
Last week marked the anniversary of that special day. It still remains the biggest crowd for an AFLW match. With the abandonment of the 2020 season due to the impacts of COVID-19, we were not given the chance to break it at a Grand Final this year. But four weeks ago, the record for a standalone women’s sporting event in Australia was broken.
The 86,174 fans who filled the MCG for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 Final between Australia and India now have the proud honour of a record-breaking crowd (and a matching badge to buy from our friends at League Tees!).
It was not even a year later that 53,034 was beaten. A year before it was 41,975 AFLW fans streaming through the gates to the new Optus Stadium in Perth to see Fremantle take on Collingwood.
Before that the record was 41,000 for a 1929 women’s exhibition football game at Adelaide Oval. A record that stood for 89 years.
Women’s sports are building, have been building. The shutdowns and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus can’t stop that. We’ve seen progress for women’s sport come to grinding, heartbreaking halts before. We’ve seen the ‘booms’ dissipate and how when things ‘return to normal’, it often excludes so many of us.
But 53,034 of us, and 86,174 of us and more and more of us, must band together now more than ever so women’s sports not only survives this crisis, but continues to thrive at the end of it.
At Siren, we’ll be doing all we can to keep women’s sports covered for the fans we know are not going to let it fade away. We’re all in this together.
Siren 11: AFLW All Australian team, staying connected with community clubs, women in sport long reads & more
Australia will host the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup and friends, it’s a welcome bit of news that had us smiling this week.
Let’s keep smiling! In last week’s newsletter, we told you we would do our best to make this newsletter a place that would make you smile. We’ve been working hard to make that happen. And we’re so excited to share with you the Siren Rewatch Schedule. It’s a fancy name for what is a schedule of women’s sport matches and games and movies and documentaries about women’s sport or women in sport that we can rewatch together and chat about on social media. Think the 2019 AFLW Grand Final (one year ago today!) or that classic film: A League of Their Own. (They are both already on the schedule of course!)
Next week we’ll begin releasing that schedule and we hope you’ll join us for the great Siren Rewatch over the coming weeks but in the meantime, if you have any suggestions for an iconic game or match that we can source online, a great movie or a super interesting documentary that we should add to the schedule, send them our way! You can contact us by replying to this email, or get in touch on Twitter or Instagram.
We’re working on more good and fun things to share with you as we all grapple with these ever-changing times so stay tuned and stay safe.
Siren 10: AFLW season abandoned, W-League grand final, Anne Gordon & more
Our world has shifted again in the past week with more cancellations and postponements. Notably the cancellation of the AFLW season and the postponement of the Suncorp Super Netball season. It’s a difficult time for many of us right now as sport has so often been the place where we could escape too.
But while the world may be an uncertain place at the moment, we want you to know that we’ll be doing all we can to make this newsletter, and the Siren community more broadly, a place where you can find something to make your world a little brighter. Something to make you smile.
Because sport is so much more than just what happens on the court or the field. And our focus over the coming weeks will be on telling more of those stories.
We’re also working behind the scenes on other ways we can connect online and come together, as the women’s sport community is so wonderful at doing. So please stay tuned for more news on that.
We’re not going anywhere. We’re still telling and sharing stories. We’re still advocating for women in sport. And we’re doing it safely, from our homes, with physical distance between us, but the power of the women in sport community holding us together.
Siren 09: W League finals, Meretiana Robinson, Fremantle Dockers AFLW & more
It’s a really hard time, Siren family.
We don’t really know what’s going to happen, and for how long our lives are going to be impacted by the current challenges the coronavirus is putting on our world.
We share in everyone’s anxiety and hope that we can all lean on each other in the beautiful online #womeninsport communities we have built during this time to feel connected and supported. It is only through those online communities that Siren exists. It is only through those online communities that we’ve been able to claim a space for us fans to come together to celebrate and elevate each other. This community is strong and supportive and incredibly fun. So while this time is a bit scary, let’s come together like we always have and let women’s sports unite us.
In some news to take your mind off all this, we are coming to your inbox at the two-month mark of our Siren journey! We can’t thank all of you who have signed up for our weekly newsletter enough for your support.
Before we launched our first newsletter, we did a social media survey to ask what fans of women’s sports wanted to see more in media coverage.
In our first two months, we’ve tried our best with the resources we have to address these responses in our coverage.
We’ve published more than 10 interviews from some amazing women including West Coast Eagles assistant coach and AFLW stalwart Michelle Cowan, Melbourne Boomers players Maddie Garrick and Lindsay Allen, Aussie Diamond and West Coast Fever captain Courtney Bruce, Australian cricket legend Anne Gordon and Q&A’s with the ICC T20 Women’s World Cup captains.
Kirby Fenwick has dug deep into the archives and written some beautiful historical pieces on women’s sports as well as weaving in historical information into her writing on Australian women’s ice hockey and her coverage of the newly redeveloped Australian Sports Museum.
Gemma Bastiani is providing in-depth stats and analysis for every game across the AFLW season with her weekly column The Roundup. Plus, Gemma’s pieces through her Play On platform provide context for stats in a way that no one else is doing. She is also the brains behind the AFLW Stats database that our paid supporters have access to.
As a collective, in our first two months, we’ve provided stories on AFLW, AWIHL, WNBL, Cricket, Netball, W-League and Super W and used our platform to share stories by other wonderful women covering women’s sport here in Australia and across the globe.
As part of our goal to amplify more diverse voices, we’ve been able to commission pieces from other women in sport.
We’ve had the pleasure of commissioning the likes of Bobby Macumber, Mary Konstantopoulos, Emma Race, Rana Hussain, Alyssa Longmuir, and Angela Christian-Wilkes on Siren which would not have been possible without our financial supporters
We know there’s more sport and more voices to be amplified. We’ll keep working as hard as we can to do this. But for now, we’re so proud of what we’ve been able to do—we are absolutely loving doing this work—and we’re so thankful for our readers and supporters for joining us on this journey.
Siren 08: T20 World Cup final, Australian Sports Museum, AFLW Roundup & more
Our voices are hoarse from cheering and our cheeks are aching from smiling so hard but what a final! A crowd of 86,174 people piled into the MCG on International Women’s Day to watch Australia take on India in the T20 World Cup grand final. The atmosphere inside the ground was something special. It was exciting to be a part of! A moment not soon forgotten.
While the remarkable crowd is not a new world record for women’s sport, it is a new record for a women’s sporting event in Australia and the biggest crowd ever for a women’s cricket match. It also demonstrated what serious investment can do for women’s sport.
As Lindsay Gibbs wrote about in her newsletter Power Plays, (a must read for all sports fans) Cricket Australia has been building towards this final for some time. And they’ve been investing in women’s cricket, too. The Australian women’s cricket team are the highest paid female athletes in team sports in Australia. The players can devote themselves full time to their craft. And as Sunday’s performance demonstrates—yes, hello Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney—it certainly works. So, how about some more serious investment in women’s sport!
In more good news, the coverage of women’s sport in mainstream media passed 30% on Sunday. It’s a number we sure could get used to. But as Siren’s own Kasey Symons wrote, we shouldn’t have to wait for an event like the T20 World Cup for women’s sport to get the coverage it deserves. And 30% isn’t 50%.
Siren 07: International Women’s Day, Anne Gordon, The Mighty Jills & more
To the history makers and the game changers. To the women who have come before us and the ones that will come after: we salute you and we thank you.
This week, in the lead up to International Women’s Day on Sunday March 8 (the day of the T20 World Cup Final—have you got your tickets yet?) we want to celebrate the women in sport who have inspired and encouraged us to dream bigger and be better.
The Siren team, alongside a few of our great mates, have written about a woman—or a team of women—who have been that inspiration and encouragement for us. We hope you enjoy these very personal stories about our women’s sporting heroines. And please share your personal heroines with us! We’d love to know who has been that inspiration and encouragement for you.
Speaking of inspirational women, on Monday we held our first Siren meetup at the Australia v New Zealand T20 match at Junction Oval. It was a beautiful Melbourne afternoon made even better by the Aussies recording a win and securing a spot in the semi-finals. Thanks to those who joined us at the cricket or who followed along at home. Stay tuned for more Siren fan meetups!
Mainstream media sure could do with some inspiration! We were disappointed yet again to see that barely 11% of mainstream sports coverage last Sunday featured women’s sport.
Siren 06: Women’s cricket history, designing pride, AFLW criticism & more
Anyone else’s heart still racing after that epic come from behind victory by the Aussies over Sri Lanka? What a match! We always knew the World Cup was going to be exciting but it’s even better than we could have predicted. Are we pumped for the final on International Women’s Day at the MCG? You bet we are.
Despite our racing hearts and frayed nerves, we’re back with another issue and it’s full to the brim.
This week has been absolutely packed with women’s sport. From the T20 World Cup, to WNBL finals and everything in between, which is why we’re disappointed to see yet again that women’s sport made up less than 20% of mainstream sports coverage on Sunday February 23rd.
We’re challenging that with more original Siren content today, including a little trip down cricket’s memory lane, a chat with the designer of the Western Bulldogs’ Pride guernsey and an interview with AFLW premiership superstar Sarah Perkins. Plus there’s all the regulars you know and love.
Siren 05: Netball Bushfire Relief, AFLW Pride Match, the Western Derby & more
What’s in a word, or even a letter? Plenty, apparently.
The relationship between sport and politics was on the figurative front page this past week as conversations around language filled our feeds. Of course, it’s not just language that reveals the politics inherent in sport.
As Kasey Symons wrote this week, “Sports have excluded and exploited, and been unfair to people based on their gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or ability since they were first played.”
We won’t shy away from these conversations, because challenging the status quo of a sports media that participates in that exclusion and exploitation is part of our mission.
Seeing the numbers each week makes it all the more necessary to do that challenging.
Yet again, less than 20% of mainstream sports coverage featured women’s sport. That’s not a status quo we’re ever going to be ok with.
If you want to help us change that, subscribe to Siren and share this newsletter with your friends and family.
Siren 04: AFLW round one, T20 World Cup, WNBL finals & more
Equitable access to facilities and opportunities. Pay discrepancies. Social and cultural barriers to participation. From the coaches box to the press box, to the field or the court, being a woman in sport has long presented challenges. We were inspired this week by the story of Elinor Penna, a woman who covered American football in the 1960s.
“…I was writing about football for 40 newspapers and I wasn’t allowed in the press box, being a female.” – Elinor Penna
Throughout the 1960s, Elinor Penna, working under her maiden name Elinor Kaine, was a sensation. She wrote about football in a style Vogue called ‘funny, gossipy, frank and technical’. You can read more about Elinor and her work in this fascinating profile by Natalie Weiner.
Elinor’s story is as inspiring and compelling as it is infuriating. It’s a familiar story, too. One marked by exclusion, so often deliberate.
Deliberate exclusion is a story we are all too familiar with. The AFLW season kicked off over the weekend. The Matildas were playing on home soil and the Australian women’s cricket team were playing a thrilling tri-series against India. But, yet again, women’s sport was less than a fifth of mainstream sports coverage.
Just 19.19% of mainstream news sport coverage on Sunday February 9th featured women’s sport. Source: @YaThinkN on Twitter.
We’re excited to be bucking that trend here at Siren.
In this edition we’re thrilled to bring you a T20 women’s world cup preview by Bobby Macumber.
We’ve been able to commission Bobby’s expert cricket commentary because of our Siren supporters whose financial contribution is helping us meet our mission of amplifying more women’s voices. We’re working behind the scenes to find ways to do more and more of this.
Siren 03: AWIHL Finals, Kick Like A Girl launches, AFLW nostalgia & more
What a week we’ve had in women’s sport!
From the AWIHL finals, Australian Open, the final round of the WNBL, Rugby 7s, FIH Pro League, Softball Australia Pacific Cup, the start of the T20 International Tri-Series and more, we were spoiled for choice—exactly how it should be!
We saw a big jump in the mainstream media coverage of women’s sport, our data collection from Sunday, February 2nd gave a number that more than doubled last Sunday’s which was great, but this still only amounted to just over a quarter of all coverage being dedicated to women’s sport. This is so frustrating considering how much action was on.
We’re also pretty disappointed that so much of the coverage focussed on Ash Barty’s post women’s semi final loss press conference where she held her beautiful niece. Our world #1 deserves so much better than this from our media.
That’s why we’re so thrilled to have so many people support our mission to change this landscape and by signing up to this newsletter and sharing women in sport coverage on your channels. Every like, tweet, email forward helps!
Siren 02: AFLW practice matches, Tess Coady, Ash Barty & more
The AFLW is only a few days away. It’s less than a month to the T20 World Cup kicks off and there’s been hockey and ice hockey and soccer and tennis.
Of course, you wouldn’t know that if you followed the mainstream sports media.
Each week, we’ll aim to collate data from the Australian mainstream media to keep tabs on the coverage of women’s sport. Thanks to Noely who does this incredible work for us. We’ll keep sharing this data and we’ll continue pushing for change.
In the meantime, we’re excited to bring you some exclusive content this week as well as continue our regular segments that we introduced last week. Plus we’ve added a new one!
Thanks to everyone who provided feedback and celebrated our first issue with us last week, it was wonderful to connect with you, our supporters and readers, and learn more about what you want from women’s sports coverage and what sports you love.
Siren 01: Siren launches, the collective, WNBA’s landmark CBA & more
Welcome to the first Siren: A Women in Sport Collective newsletter.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for subscribing and joining us on this journey.
Your passion for women’s sport, and desire for a sports media that reflects that passion, motivates us to create something really special with Siren. We’re excited to have you along for the ride!
We’ve received so much love and our hearts are full.
We’d like to share more about the collective, our work in women’s sport and what you can expect from us.