Gender and Language, Vol 11, No 3 (2017)

Differentiations and intersections: a corpus-assisted discourse study of gender representations in the British press before, during and after the London Olympics 2012

Sylvia Jaworska, Sally Hunt
Issued Date: 13 Sep 2017


This study examines the impact of a global sports event on gender representations in media reporting. Whereas previous research on gender, sport and media has been mainly concerned with sports events in the North American or Australian context, this study investigates the British media reporting before, during and after the London Olympics 2012. Our study follows the approach of Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies (CADS) and uses both quantitative and qualitative research procedures. The results reveal more balanced gender representations during the London Olympics in that the ‘regular’ biased associations were supressed in favour of positive references to female achievements. However, little carry-though of the ‘gains’ was noted. Also, this study shows that the positive associations intersected with national sentiments and were used to celebrate the nation-state. At the same time, some subtle resistance was observed to accepting as ‘truly’ British the non-white athletes and those not born in Britain.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/genl.28858


Aull, L. L. and Brown, D. W. (2013) Fighting words: a corpus analysis of gender representations in sports reportage. Corpora 8: 27–52.

Baker, P. (2006) Using Corpora in Discourse Analysis. London: Continuum.

Baker, P. (2014) Using Corpora to Analyse Gender. London: Bloomsbury.

Baker, P., Gabrielatos, C. and McEnery, T. (2013) Discourse Analysis and Media Attitudes. The Representation of Islam in the British Press. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Beard, A. (1998) The Language of Sport. London: Routledge.

Billings, A. and Angelini, J. (2007) Packaging the games for viewer consumption: gender, ethnicity, and nationality in NBC’s coverage of the 2004 Summer Olympics. Communication Quarterly 55: 95–111.

Billings, A. and Eastman, S. T. (2002) Selective representation of gender, ethnicity, and nationality in American television coverage of the 2000 Summer Olympics. International Review for the Sociology of Sport 37: 351–70.

Bolinger, D. (1980) Language, the Loaded Weapon. London: Longman.

Bruce, T., Hovden, J. and Markula, P. (2010) Sportswomen at the Olympics: A Global Comparison of Newspaper Coverage. Rotterdam: Sense.

Butler, J. (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge.

Butler, J. (1993) Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’. London: Routledge.

Caldas-Coulthard, C. and Moon, R. (2010) Curvy, hunky, kinky: using corpora as tools for critical analysis. Discourse and Society 21: 99–133.

Cameron, D. (2005) Language, gender and sexuality: current issues and new directions. Applied Linguistics 26(4) 482–502.

Caple, H. (2013) Competing for coverage: exploring emerging discourses on female athletes in the Australian print media. English Text Construction 6(2): 271–94.

Cheng, W. (2012) Exploring Corpus Linguistics: Language in Action. Abingdon: Routledge.

Cotter, C. (2010) News Talk: Investigating the Language of Journalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Crenshaw, K. (1991) Mapping the margins: intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review 43: 1241–99.

Daddario, G. (1994) Chilly scenes of the 1992 winter games: the mass media and the marginalization of female athletes. Sociology of Sport Journal 11: 275–88.

Daily Mail (2012) Team GB have 61 ‘plastic Brits’ taking part in London Olympics. Daily Mail (11 July).

Duncan, M. C. (1990) Sports photographs and sexual difference: images of women and men in the 1984 Olympic Games. Sociology of Sport Journal 7: 22–43.

Duncan, M. C., Messner, M. A. and Willms, N. (2005) Gender in Televised Sports: News and Highlights Shows, 1989–2004. Los Angeles, CA: Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles.

Eastman, S. T. and Billings, A. (2002) Sportscasting and sports reporting: the power of gender bias. Journal of Sport and Social Issues 24: 192–213.

Gabrielatos, C. and Baker, P. (2008) Fleeing, sneaking, flooding: a corpus analysis of discursive constructions of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press, 1996–2005. Journal of English Linguistics 36: 5–38.

Gries, S. (2010) Useful statistics for corpus linguistics. In A. Sánchez and A. Moisés (eds) A mosaic of corpus linguistics: selected approaches 269–91. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Guardian (2012) Mo Farah also proved that we can cheer without stopping for 14 minutes. The Guardian (11 August).

Hunt, S. (2015) Representations of gender and agency in the Harry Potter series. In P. Baker and T. McEnery (eds) Corpora and Discourse Studies 266–284. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

International Olympic Committee (2012) Factsheet: London 2012 facts & figures. Retrieved on 21 July 2017 from

International Olympic Committee (2014a) Inspiring change and advocating gender equality through sport. Retrieved on 21 July 2017 from

International Olympic Committee (2014b) Factsheet: women in the Olympic movement. Retrieved on 21 July 2017 from

Jaworska, S. (2016) Using a corpus-assisted discourse studies (CADS) approach to investigate constructions of identities in media reporting surrounding mega sport events: the case of the London Olympics 2012. In I. Lamond and L. Platt (eds) Critical Events Studies: Approaches to Research 149–74. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jaworska, S. and Krishnamurthy, R. (2012) On the F-word: a corpus-based analysis of the media representation of Feminism in British and German press discourse, 1990–2009. Discourse and Society 23: 401–31.

Johnson, S. and Ensslin, A. (2007) But her language skills shifted the family dynamics dramatically. Language, gender and the construction of publics in two British newspapers. Gender and Language 1(2): 229–54.

Kassing, J., Billings, A. C., Brown, R., Halone, K. K., Harrison, K., Krizek, B., Mean, L. J. and Turman, P. D. (2004) Enacting, (re)producing, consuming, and organizing sport. Communication Yearbook 28: 373–409.

Levon, E. and Mendes, R. (eds) (2016) Language, Sexuality and Power: Studies in Intersectional Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Macalister, J. (2011) Flower-girl and bugler-boy no more: changing gender representation in writing for children. Corpora 6: 25–44.

McDowell, J. and Schaffner, S. (2011) Football, it’s a man’s game: insult and gendered discourse in The Gender Bowl. Discourse and Society 22: 547–64.

McEnery, T., Potts, A. and Xiao, R. (2013) London 2012 Media Impact Study: Report for the Department for Culture Media and Sport. London: Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Marchi, A. (2010) The moral in the story: a diachronic investigation of lexicalised morality in the UK press. Corpora 5:161–189.

Meân, L. (2010) Making masculinity and framing femininity: FIFA, soccer, and world cup web sites. In H. Hundley and A. Billings (eds) Examining Identity in Sports Media 65–86. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Meân, L. and Halone, K. (2010) Sport, language and culture: issues and intersections. Journal of Social Psychology 29: 253–60.

Messner, M., Duncan, M. and Jenson, K. (1993) Separating the men from the girls: the gendered language of televised sports. Gender and Society 7: 121–37.

Milani, T. (ed.) (2015) Language and Masculinities: Performances, Intersections, Dislocations. New York: Routledge.

Partington, A., Duguid, A. and Taylor, C. (2013) Patterns and Meanings in Discourse: Theory and Practice in Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies (CADS). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Pearce, M. (2008) Investigating the collocational behaviour of MAN and WOMAN in the BNC using Sketch Engine. Corpora 3: 1–29.

Pemberton, C., Shields, S., Gilbert, L., Shen, X. and Said, H. (2004) A look at print media coverage across four Olympiads. Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal 13: 87–99.

Romaine, S. (2000) Language in Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Scott, M. (2008) WordSmith tools version 5. Lexical Analysis Software. Retrieved from

Sigley, R. and Holmes, J. (2002) Looking at girls in corpora of English. Journal of English Linguistics 30: 138–57.

Spracklen, K. (2013) Whiteness and Leisure. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Stubbs, M. (2002) Words and Phrases: Studies in Lexical Semantics. London: Blackwell.

Sznycer, K. (2010) Strong female speakers: the resistant discourse of tennis players. Gender and Language 7: 303–32.

Taylor, C. (2010) Science in the news: a diachronic perspective. Corpora 5: 221–50.

Taylor, C. (2013) Searching for similarity using corpus-assisted discourse studies. Corpora 8: 81–113.

Taylor, C. (2014) Investigating the representation of migrants in the UK and Italian press: A cross-linguistic corpus-assisted discourse analysis. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 19: 368–400.

Vessey, R. (2013) Challenges in cross-linguistic corpus-assisted discourse studies. Corpora 8: 1–26.

Vincent, J., Imwold, C., Masemann, V. and Johnson, J. T. (2003) A comparison of selected serious’ and ‘popular’ British, Canadian, and United States newspaper coverage of female and male athletes competing in the Centennial Olympic games. International Review for the Sociology of Sport 37: 319–35.

Wensing, E. and Bruce, T. (2003) Bending the rules: media representations of gender during an international sporting event. International Review for the Sociology of Sport 38: 387–96.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy