Women's sports are growing in popularity, both with audiences and participants, and we have amazing athletes like Venus and Serena Williams, Steph Houghton, and Jessica Ennis-Hill to thank for it. That said, there is still massive differences in the funding for training, the pay for winners, and the marketing style between male and female sports.

The Pay Gap

Male #Football players, especially in the premier league, have notoriously high incomes. Wayne Rooney earns an astounding £300,000 a week, while the highest earning female footballer, Steph Houghton earns £65,000 a year. This enormous disparity between incomes is the clearest demonstration of the difference in respect given to each player.

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The significant potential income for male football players is a big lure for potential future talent, and the sport never struggles to recruit new players. While Ms Houghton earns a respectable income, girls are never given the same monetary incentives to play football, so fewer girls hold footballer as a dream job.

Girl's sports are not taken seriously

Encouraging girl's to take up sports has a notably different style to when boys are targeted, as this tweet from the Women's Sports Network shows.

Do girls play football in high heels? No. Do girls play with a pink football? No. Girls play football in the same kind of football boots with the same kind of football as boys do, yet in an advert, regarding female sports, these sexist and regressive stereotypes have been fallen on.

If this is how we are targeting girls, it is no wonder the sports are not taken seriously.

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Female footballers are not Barbie dolls, they're athletes, and this not being recognised is another indicator of the lack of respect given.

Are women just not as good as men?

Despite women not being encouraged from a young age in the same way as men, despite the money put into training not being comparable, and despite the prize money not being as enticing for #The Women, #Female Athletes are proving time and time again that they are not the inferior version of male athletes.

In the 2015 FIFA world cup, the England Women's Team came in a respectable third place, whilst in the 2014 world cup, the England men's team were ranked 10th. The pay gap between the men's and women's team does not represent this difference in achievement.

How can we change it?

If we want our women's teams to be as respected and successful as our men's teams, or more successful in the case of women's football, we need to start from a young age.

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Gender stereotypes being conformed to prevents this, as well as many other successes for women, and need to be stopped.

Little girls are signed up to dance classes whilst boys are signed up for sports classes. Little girls are bought fairies and princesses, and little boys are bought footballers and super heroes. The messages are clear, girls are pretty and dainty, boys are athletic and tough. While neither sex is wrong for enjoying any of these activities, the prescriptive way by which these activities are targeted at children based on their sex deters both from exploring the alternative, and thus both miss out.

Adverts with pink footballs and high heels will do nothing to change this; the message remains that girls are pretty and pink before they're capable. For girls who are turned off by princess look, they'll be turned off the sport instinctively. For girls who enjoy the girly look, they have already had that interest satisfied by the Princess indoctrination from infancy.

Respect our female athletes more. It's time to start encouraging boys and girls to try equally, and then paying men and women for their successes alike. It's 2017. This should be obvious by now.