Design student finds women invisible in NZ rugby

Friday 16 September 2016

Same Pain, No Gain

A Massey University School of Design student has designed two posters illustrating the under representation of women in New Zealand rugby, which will be used by the National Council of Women at their annual conference that started today in Wellington. 

Alesha Garton, a second-year student at Massey’s College of Creative Arts, answered her lecturer Caroline Campbell’s design brief “Is New Zealand an equal society”, by researching how women are valued in sport, specifically rugby. “I focused on rugby because it’s what we identify ourselves with as a culture. I found women are almost invisible in New Zealand rugby.”

Using the internet to develop her design idea, and through reading national publications as well as blogs and university magazines, it clarified her belief that women were under-represented in media coverage and under-valued for their rugby playing prowess.

She was shocked when she realised how little coverage there is of New Zealand’s national women’s team, the Black Ferns, winners of four consecutive international rugby titles and who are ranked first in the new official global rankings for women's test rugby.   “I have watched some of their games and they are just as intense and exciting as the men’s games.

Alesha Garton

“Men’s rugby is broadcast so widely that heaps of people turn up to their games but don’t turn up to women’s games which are not broadcast. Some articles highlighted the difference in salaries paid to top men and women rugby players which is why I chose the tagline ‘Same pain without the gain’ to highlight the inequality in the sector.”

The display of the posters precedes an international rugby tour by the Black Ferns in October when they play matches against Australia, England, Ireland and Canada. It also coincides with renewed focus on attitudes within New Zealand’s rugby culture in the wake of the Chiefs’ stripper saga.

National Council of Women chief executive officer, Lynn McKenzie, says Ms Garton’s bold and creative work resonates strongly with the Council’s gender equality cultural mission and Enough is Enough message. “The culture of sexism and inequality runs deep in our society and far too often with sport. This has to stop.” 

The Council will display posters on inequality designed by 10 second year Massey School of Design students at their conference, which starts today at Te Papa. The NCWNZ also plans to print some of the posters for distribution around Wellington and to use in publications and social media.


Top image: One of Ms Garton’s posters which has featured on the National Council of Women’s Facebook page.