29/03/2015 17:17 BST | Updated 29/05/2015 06:59 BST

Five Ways Ordinary Women, Media and Advertisers Can Change the Inequality Around Women in Sport

For those of you who don't follow sport (and I'm one of them), you may be wondering what on earth addressing the inequality around women in sport has to do with you.

The answer: a lot. It has to do with the fact that you don't get paid as much as your male counterpart. It has to do with the fact that your girls are growing up believing they need to diet at the age of 12. And it has a lot to do with acceptance of our bodies as we get older.

Last week, I moderated a panel at Advertising Week with some of the finest women who work across every aspect of sport - broadcaster Clare Balding, director of Sport England's This Girl Can campaign Kim Gehrig, Casey Stoney who was the captain of Team GB's women's football team and Ruth Holdaway, CEO of the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation, which aims to bring sport to all women.

We were there to address the imbalance of women in sport but more importantly, we wanted to come away with some solutions.

We all know that competitive female athletes don't get the same air time or prestige as men's sport. It's wrong and unfair.

But the disturbing flipside is that ordinary women aren't engaging in sport - whether that's zumba or going to the gym - because they are afraid to.

Millions are afraid of being laughed at, of getting changed in the gym, of being seen to be sweating, of wearing lycra and not possessing a body that looks like a size 8 model. And this fear is preventing them from doing something men are encouraged to do from birth, from harnessing something that will make them feel good, empowered, strong and capable.

So what can we do to address some of these deeply-rooted inequalities? How can we get our young girls inspired at an early age so they want to be footballers as well as ballerinas?

1) Media must treat women's sports as news

I was listening to the news on the radio the other day; football, of course, was part of it. The immediate assumption was that it was about men's football, which of course it was, and no mention of women's sports anywhere. It struck me how odd this was. Did women take a break that day, when it came to playing competitive sport?

And if I was a little girl in the car, listening to the radio, I would assume that the only reason why men's sport was reported was because it was more important. FYI, it isn't.

2) We must stop exercising in sheds

A recent report by MPs from the Commons' Health Select Committee, revealed that millions of women are afraid of exercising in public, resorting to jogging at night or exercising in sheds. SHEDS, people.

I'm not going to lie - I do feel rubbish if I go to the gym and all I see are impossibly toned women who remind me that my tummy flab is going nowhere. But you know what, the only way we are going to encourage other women is by being seen and being present.

When I see a woman like me, I don't sit there comparing myself to her or judging her, I get inspired and think 'Amazing, if she can sweat her arse off, so can I."

3) We need to start paying our female athletes better

The argument for why women athletes don't get paid as much as men may be sponsorship - as in, men's sponsorship deals are more lucrative.

Sponsors - WAKE UP. Unlike the England's male football team, whose winning achievements I can count on no fingers, women competing on an international level are actually WINNING something.

The England women's team won the Rugby World Cup last year - the last time the men did this was over 12 years ago.

The amount male footballers get paid is a travesty compared to the women. Casey Stoney, who captained Team GB got her team to the quarter finals. Ryan Giggs who captained the male Team GB team also got his team to the quarter finals.

One of them still has to do a part-time job because their sport doesn't quite pay the bills. Which one do you think it is?

4) Men and women should stand on branding boards side by side

Those massive billboards that you see with male athletes? They need to feature women as well and be the rule, not the exception. It's the only way to inspire young women to get involved in sport because otherwise we're saying that adult females have no place in the sporting world.

Why does Gillette have such big deals with male athletes such as Roger Federer yet the Venus range doesn't have the same for female athletes? I would love to see Serena Williams attributing her smooth pits to its 'close cut shave'. Okay, that sounds a bit weird, but you get my point.

5) Women's sporting goods need to occupy more than shoe-cupboard-sized space in stores

This point is ridiculous, especially as women's sporting goods sales are growing exponentially and will probably outstrip men's. But walk into any high street sporting store - JD Sports, Foot Locker, Sports Direct - and you'll be aghast at the amount of space allocated to male goods compared to women.

Nike Town in Oxford Circus is showing signs of change by making its ground floor mixed clothing - previously there were three floors dedicated to men and one smaller floor for women right at the top - but we need to see more.

Stores that don't do this tell me that I am not as much a priority as my male colleagues, and that sticks in my craw. I don't want to spend my money with brands that are indirectly sexist.

The overall message to take away here is that we all have a part to play in how we change this conversation. Advertisers - you need to be brave and bold and take a chance. It worked for Sport England, Dove and Always - and they are game changers in these fields. Media - you need to realise that you set the agenda for the news so harness this power.

And women - you need to show there is strength in numbers and visibility, and take to your streets, gyms and swimming pools in the bright light of day.

Please share this blog to get the message out and bang the drum so that advertisers hear us!