Women starred at 2022 Winter Olympics, but men photographed most of the action

Curling - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 16
Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Millions of moments were captured by photographers at the 2022 Winter Olympics: From sky-high aerial action and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it speed to raucous team celebrations and the solitary, still seconds in between.

But while women were responsible for many of the most memorable moments from the Beijing Games, most of their achievements – as well as their disappointments – were documented by men.

The Beijing Winter Games were technically the most “gender equal” in history, with women representing 45 percent of all athletes, but the media covering the Olympics were far less gender balanced. The International Olympic Committee helped highlight this disparity when the organization released the final number of validated media accreditations following the Closing Ceremony.

In Beijing, 9,388 individuals received media credentials. That total includes three categories: press organizations (1,952); rights-holding broadcasters (3,607); and host-broadcaster representatives (3,829).

The IOC released a gender breakdown for the first category, which includes print reporters and photographers. Of the 1,952 media members in Beijing, just 23 percent – 443 individuals – were women. Within that group, women photographers were the least represented, percentage-wise: Of the 603 photographers accredited at the Games, only 13 percent – 80 individuals – were women.

Snowboard - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 6
Photographers at the 2022 Winter Olympics document the women’s snowboard halfpipe podium ceremony featuring gold medalist Chloe Kim (USA), silver medalist Queralt Castellet (ESP) and bronze medalist Tomita Sena (JPN). Of the 603 photographers accredited at the 2022 Winter Olympics, only 13 percent were women. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Press accreditation numbers by gender at the 2022 Winter Olympics:

E (Journalist) 290 801 1,091 27% 73%
EP (Photographer) 80 523 603 13% 87%
ET (Technician) 16 81 97 16% 84%
EC (MPC support staff) 6 13 19 32% 68%
ENR (Non-rights-holding broadcaster) 51 91 142 36% 64%
TOTAL 443 1,509 1,952 23% 77%

“I think it’s jarring to see the numbers in print because my impression, honestly, when I was there is that the numbers were improving,” said Getty Images photographer Maddie Meyer, whose resume includes four Olympic Games, 10 FIFA World Cups (women and men) and the Super Bowl.

Meyer, a 2014 Ohio University grad and Boston resident, was stationed in “Z-Zone” in Beijing, formally known as the Zhangjiakou Zone, which hosted Nordic skiing events, as well as the bulk of freestyle skiing and snowboarding events. She was one of 11 Getty photographers in the zone, three of whom were women. Overall, Getty Images had 61 representatives in Beijing — staff included photographers, editors, editorial operations, product and technology staff — with 13 being women (21 percent).

“[While] it’s not 50/50, I thought, ’Oh this is great, I’ve got two girlfriends up here with me. This is awesome.’ But I did notice when, for example, I covered Shaun White‘s last run and hanging out in the scrum near the mixed zone, looking around and I do notice, of course, women are still a minority there.”

Shaun White's reaction following finishing fourth at the men's snowboard halfpipe competition is among Getty Images' photographer Maddie Meyer's favorites from Beijing.
Shaun White’s reaction following his fourth-place finish in the men’s snowboard halfpipe competition is among Getty Images’ photographer Maddie Meyer’s favorites from Beijing. (Photo by Maddie Meyers/Getty Images) 

At major sporting events in the U.S., Meyer said she can easily see female photographers are still the minority, yet she remembers a different picture while in college, where she says women made up the majority of her fellow visual communications students. While that makes her hopeful that growing gender equality in her profession is not a “supply-chain issue,” Meyer says it remains a challenge to get women photographers game-ready for pressure-packed sports competitions.

“How do we make sure they’re coming up and getting opportunities at the highest level,” said Meyer. “Because that’s another thing: We’re covering the Olympic Games. That’s the pinnacle of sport photography, and this is not the time to give somebody a first chance or first try – when it’s a really high-pressure situation.

“So how do you get new photographers, men or women, into a position where they’re covering these really high-demand, high-pressure sports?”

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: In sled hockey, coed in name only, women are building their own Paralympic pipeline

While Getty has addressed that question with targeted internship programs and mentorships, part of the answer lies in Meyer herself. As the first woman to earn the Getty Images’ Sports Internship in 2013, her living, breathing, trailblazing path inspired fellow colleague and OU alum Sarah Stier, who is here to confirm: Representation matters.

“When I saw that Maddie – that her full-time job was being a sports photographer – that’s what I wanted to do, and so I had Maddie to look up to,” said Stier, who worked the 2022 Winter Games as an Alpine photo editor as well as a photographer in the Beijing Zone, which primarily hosted the Olympic ice sports. “They always say it, but it helps when you have people to look up to, and I think that’s the key and that’s how we’re going to (bring more women into the profession).”

Maddie Meyer and Sarah Stier in the field at the Beijing Olympics. (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
Photographers Maddie Meyer and Sarah Stier in the field at the Beijing Olympics. (Photo courtesy Getty Images)

Stier also worked the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, where the media accreditation numbers provided by the IOC reflected a similar breakdown percentage-wise by gender. The press corps totaled 4,187 (down by approximately 1,800 from “normal” Summer Games numbers), with 20 percent of the total credentials going to women, and just 12 percent of the 1,042 photographer credentials were held by women.

Bringing a woman’s perspective to the competition field

When it comes to documenting the action, Meyer and Stier bring a similar approach to their craft, intent on capturing the action as they see it, no matter the subject. But both women also have embraced their position among the minority, seeing it as an opportunity to elevate their points of view as well as to champion the same dynamic coverage of female athletes and women’s sports.

“While there are disadvantages to being a woman in this male-dominated field, I will say that I do think when I am covering female athletes, I think they do feel more comfort around me and so maybe in that moment that’s my advantage,” said Stier.

In particular, Stier said she seized those advantages last year while covering the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association’s history-making game hosted at Madison Square Garden, as part of the 2021 Dream Gap Tour.

“As I was shooting, I was trying to challenge myself to think beyond the the photos and storylines that we always see in women’s sports,” she said, referring to the stereotypical images of ponytails and painted fingernails.

“What can I shoot beyond that? Because when we photograph men’s reactions after they score a goal or something, they’re these almost guttural screams, you know? It’s intense – and I want to make sure that when I photograph female athletes, I’m photographing them in the exact same way that I photograph male athletes.

“That’s going to be hard for some people to adjust to because women athletes don’t always look pretty when they’re scoring.”

Jessie Diggins of Team United States celebrates winning silver during the Women's Cross-Country Skiing 30k Mass Start.
Team USA’s Jessie Diggins celebrates winning silver during the women’s cross-country skiing 30k mass start freestyle on Day 16 of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Meyer noted that she, too, considers it her responsibility to provide the same gritty coverage for women’s sports as she does for men.

“I need to be sure that I’m showing the women in their peak action and getting dirty and sliding on the turf and things like that, so that – ultimately it’s a little bit out of my hands – but I make such an effort to be able to provide these tough, peak-action moments.”

But Meyer has found a little magic in differences between on-field celebrations at women’s events vs. men’s: “Often (women) give great reaction to each other. A lot of men will celebrate to the cameras or by themselves, and women tend to come together and celebrate with their teams, so there are more pictures there, and often I find that more interesting.”

But at the end of day, it’s respect for their subjects that rules the work.

“I always try and put myself in the (place) of whatever athlete I’m photographing, man or woman, and I know something that’s true for all of them is they’ve worked really hard to get to this point,” said Meyer.

“They have dedicated likely their entire lives to getting here, and I want the athlete to be shown in a good light, in a respectful light, and to honor the work that they’ve done to get to that moment.”

What is being done to support female sports photographers?

Last year, the IOC released an extensive “Gender Equality and Inclusion Report” as well as detailed “Portrayal Guidelines,” both of which encourage gender equality among content creators, storytellers and news organizations. These recommendations even go so far as to encourage sports organizations to offer incentives – like additional accreditations – to media outlets to assign female staff to cover their athletes or events.

In an email to On Her Turf, IOC Media Relations also confirmed that the IOC Press Committee has a working group on gender equality that is looking at “various initiatives including, amongst others, allocating a small quota of press accreditation to females in some parts of the world, plus ensuring equal gender representation – and geographic representation – in the Young Reporter Programme.”

“Images from the Olympic Games are seen by billions of people around the world, creating icons and role models for women and girls – proving that ‘if she believes it, she can be it,'” wrote the IOC in a report in Tuesday detailing its gender parity initiatives in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Stier recognizes that a shift toward 50-50 representation behind the camera won’t change overnight, but she finds the prospect motivating.

Dutch speed skater Irene Schouten's reaction after winning the gold medal in the Women's Mass Start Final was among Getty photographer's Sarah Stier favorite images from Beijing.
Dutch speed skater Irene Schouten‘s reaction after winning the gold medal in the Women’s Mass Start Final was among Getty Images photographer’s Sarah Stier favorites from Beijing. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

“I think that’s the challenge and the motivator for getting women to work in sports,” she said. “What we can do now is to recognize young women who want to be sports photographers early and give them the courage and confidence to really own whatever market they’re in, (and also) give them that courage and confidence by valuing their work over that idea of, ‘We’re going to value you because you’re a woman.’

“That’s where we get the change.”

Meyer said she sees a time in the future where she arrives at an Olympic Games and can gather with a veteran group of women photographers and share the same camaraderie that she sees her male counterparts enjoying.

“I’m working generally around a lot of men who have had this group and have known each other for decades,” said Meyer. “And I know that’ll be me one day, with all the women I’ve (worked alongside).

“Hopefully, I’ll know them for decades, and I’ll be 50 or 60 years old hanging out with them wherever the Olympics are.”

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: Most memorable, historic moments in women’s sports at the 2022 Winter Olympics

Justine Wong-Orantes’ atypical path to becoming one of the best liberos in the world

Justine Wong-Orantes hits the ball in the women's semi-final volleyball match between USA and Serbia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Getty Images

It’s been 20 years since the same nation held both the Olympic and world volleyball titles at the same time, but libero Justine Wong-Orantes is looking to help lead Team USA accomplish that very feat at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships in the Netherlands and Poland. Competition began on Friday and the U.S. is currently 2-0 after group play wins against Kazakhstan and Canada.

“We’re trying to win, for sure,” Wong-Orantes told On Her Turf. “I think, especially with the new turn of the program and the new year of the quad, we just have a really nice blend of veterans and also newcomers on the team.”

The 14-woman roster for Team USA, which is ranked No. 1 in the world and won its first Olympic title last summer, features six players from that gold-medal-winning team. And while Wong-Orantes is among the 2021 U.S. Olympic team veterans, she’s still a relative newcomer to international play.

The Southern California native enjoyed a notable junior career – she was 12 when she became the youngest female to ever earn an AAA rating in beach volleyball – and was a standout collegian at Nebraska, where she was a member of the 2015 NCAA championship team. But Wong-Orantes followed a different path upon graduation, initially choosing not to go overseas to play professionally.

While she was first selected for the U.S. national team in 2016 and played a handful of international tournaments in the following years, it wasn’t until she started playing professionally in Germany in 2019 that she saw the potential to elevate her position on the roster. In particular, the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics gave her an additional year of overseas experience, which she calls “a blessing in disguise.”

“I just felt like I was still in that developmental stage,” she said. “And a whole year postponement allowed me to go overseas and really get all the touches, all the repetitions, and just kind of expose myself to international volleyball another year. So I was, in hindsight, pretty thankful for that COVID season because I got an extra year under my belt, and I think that just gave me a ton of confidence.”

Ahead of the Olympics, Wong-Orantes earned “best libero” honors at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball National League in Rimini, Italy, which helped secure her spot on the Olympic roster. In Tokyo, she followed up with another standout performance and was named best libero of the Olympic tournament.

As to how the Wong-Orantes transformed into one of the world’s top liberos, she points to her background as a beach volleyball player. She began competing at age 8, and her first partner was Sara Hughes, a star on the AVP Pro Tour who also won two NCAA titles with USC.

“I think having that background and just the court awareness that beach volleyball forces you to have allowed me to really have a good read on the game,” said Wong-Orantes. “I think that’s what makes a great libero is just reading and always being reactive towards the ball.”

Wong-Orantes also credits the assistance of mental coach Sue Enquist, a former UCLA softball coach and U.S. national team coach, who now helps teams work on their culture and relationships. Enquist began working with the U.S. volleyball team during the pandemic and has continued in her role ever since.

“We just worked on a lot of stuff within ourselves, within our program, how to communicate with each other off the court, and I think that honestly propelled us into such a high, high level with how we worked with each other, and then that transferred onto the court,” explained Wong-Orantes, who noted the team has Enquist on speed dial while at the World Championship. “I really commend Sue. I just really give a lot of praise to her because I think our culture was never bad, but I think [she] just transformed into a different level.”

2022-09-26 - FIVB Volleyball Womens World Championship 2022 - Day 4
ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS – Justine Wong-Orantes (far right) poses for a photo with her U.S. teammates after defeating Canada at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on September 26, 2022. (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Wong-Orantes said she and her U.S. teammates are on their toes for the world championships, which features twice as many teams (24) as the Olympics and a “more grueling” format.

“It’s going to be a long tournament, and I think we’re really going to need all 14 of us that are here. I’m pretty certain that, at any given moment, someone’s going to be called on and someone’s going to need to step up in big moments.”

2022 Ascendant LPGA: How to watch, who’s playing in Texas’s annual signature event

Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand hits her second shot on the 16th hole during the final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
Getty Images

The LPGA make its annual stop in The Colony, Texas, this week for the 10th edition of the Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America, where Thailand’s 19-year-old rookie Atthaya Thitikul comes in hot off her second career win and second playoff victory this season at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

Leading the 132-player field at Old American Golf Club, located at Golf Clubs at The Tribute, are Texas residents and past champions Cheyenne Knight and Angela Stanford. They’ll compete for the $1.7 million prize purse alongside major champions Nelly KordaLydia Ko and Brooke Henderson. Last year’s Ascendant LPGA champion, world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, will not be defending her title after announcing earlier this month she would be missing several weeks due to a nagging wrist injury.

This past weekend in Arkansas, Thitikul took the lead with a 10-under 61 in the second round and shot 68 in the final round to finish regulation tied with Danielle Kang at 17-under 196. Thitikul, who won the JTBC Classic in March in a two-hole playoff vs. Nanna Koerstz Madsen, drained an 8-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to secure the win over Kang.

How to watch the 2022 Ascendant LPGA 

Coverage of the 2022 Ascendant LPGA from Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas, can be found on Golf Channel, with streaming options available any time on any mobile device and online through NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

  • Thursday, Sept. 29: 12:30-3:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Friday, Sept. 30: 12:30-3:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Saturday, Oct. 1: 1-4 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Sunday, Oct. 2: 1-4 p.m. ET, Golf Channel

Who’s playing in the 2022 Ascendant LPGA

Six of the top 10 players in the Rolex World Rankings are among the field in Texas, including:

  • No. 2 Nelly Korda
  • No. 4 Lydia Ko
  • No. 5 Atthaya Thitikul
  • No. 6 Brooke Henderson
  • No. 7 Lexi Thompson
  • No. 10 Nasa Hataoka

A number of local Texans also are in the tournament, headlined by past champions, Angela Stanford (2020) and Cheyenne Knight (2019), and two junior champions of the Volunteers of America Classic Girls Championship, who are playing on a sponsor exemption: Yunxuan (Michelle) Zhang (2022), a freshman at SMU, and Avery Zweig (2021), a high school sophomore from McKinney, Texas.

Past five champions of The Ascendant LPGA

2021 Jin Young Ko (South Korea) 16-under 268 1 stroke Matilda Castren
2020 Angela Stanford (USA) 7-under 277 2 strokes So Yeon Ryu, Inbee Park, Yealimi Noh
2019 Cheyenne Knight (USA) 18-under 266 2 strokes Brittany Altomare, Jaye Marie Green
2018 Sung Hyun Park (South Korea) 11-under 131 1 stroke Lindy Duncan
2017 Haru Nomura (Japan) 3-under 281 Playoff Christie Kerr

Last time at The Ascendant LPGA

South Korea’s Jin Young Ko carded a final-round 69 to maintain her 54-hole lead at Old American Golf Club and held on for a one stroke win at the 2021 Volunteers of America Classic, her eighth career LPGA tour title. Ko finished regulation at 16-under 268, edging Finland’s Matilda Castren by one stroke.

It kicked off a five-win season for Ko, who had just lost her No. 1 ranking to Nelly Korda the week prior after holding the top spot for 100 straight weeks. She regained the No. 1 ranking back in October 2021, after earning her fourth win in seven starts at the BMW Ladies Championship.

More about Old American Golf Club

Opened in 2010, the Old American Golf Club is one of two clubs at The Tribute, a lakefront resort community on Lewisville Lake in The Colony, Texas. Designed by Tripp Davis and 12-time PGA Tour winner Justin Leonard, Old American plays as a Par 71 and stretches to 6,475 yards on the tournament scorecard.