Note: the following is an attempt the translate the original article from Chinese into English. Any errors are the fault of the translator. Corrections are welcome.
Female Weiqi Players Withdraw from Tournament in Droves as a Result of Unequal treatment of Male and Female players
Pictured: Joanne Missingham’s Protest Fan
Sina Sports News
On 29 August, the third and fourth rounds of the 2011 Yunan-Taiwan Weiqi Tournament were held at the Taiwan Qiyuan, with the famous Taiwanese Weiqi beauty Joanne Missingham participating.
In order to protest against the recent unequal treatment between male and female players during the qualifying tournament for the Qiandeng [literally, "Thousand Lanterns"] Cup, Joanne Missingham held a hand written fan saying “Protest Sex Discrimination” during the matches.
On the morning of 23 August, the qualifying tournament to select the Taiwanese representatives for the second cross-strait Qiandeng Cup started.
Competition in the men's division proceeded normally, but the few players in the women's division all withdrew from the competition at the last minute. In response, the Taiwan Qiyuan cancelled the tournament for the women's division.
It turned out that the Taiwan Qiyuan established a playing fee for the male players games in this qualifying tournament, but not for the female players.
Since the talks between the female players and the Taiwan Qiyuan have not been fruitful, the players withdrew from the tournament in the end.
[Among the six players], Dang Xiyun did not register to compete, Xiao Ailin phoned the Taiwan Qiyuan on the evening of 22 August to cancel her registration, and the remaining four players decided on the morning of 23 August--right before the start of the competition--to withdraw.
Taiwan Weiqi Players' Association president Lin Shengxian 8 dan recalls the situation on that day (In the following, Lin Shengxian recalls the matter):
“On the morning of 23 August, I arrived at the Taiwan Qiyuan to play in matches as usual, and I met the players Joanne Missingham, Zhang Kaixin, Zhang Zhengping and Su Shengfang.”
“One of them asked me: ‘Master Lin, the male players are receiving game fees while the female players are not. What is your view of this matter?’”
“At that time, I was not aware of the actual circumstances. I froze for a moment and answered, ‘The total game fee of NT$10,000 [approximately $345 USD] isn't much; it's probably part of the budgetary considerations of the [Taiwan] Qiyuan.’”
“She continued with the question: ‘But why is it that the guys only had to ask [the Taiwan Qiyuan] to receive game fees, while the girls can't receive game fees even by asking?’ Honestly, at that time I did not know how to respond.”
“After that, the four players walked out of the playing room, and I started [my] games as well.”
“After the completion of [my] match, the four players still did not return to play in the qualifying tournament for the Qiandeng Cup.”
This incident lead to quite a few discussions within the Taiwanese Weiqi community.
In the tournament against Yunan players on 29 August, Joanne Missingham used a fan on which she had written “Protest Sex Discrimination”.
In response to the Qiandeng Cup controversy, Chief Secretary of Taiwan Qiyuan Lu Yijing wrote an unofficial explanation in which she defended the organization. A summary of the article is given below.
Lu began the article specifically stating that the opinion expressed is her own and does not represent the official position of the Taiwan Qiyuan. Then, she tried to explain the general policy of the Taiwan Qiyuan regarding game fees to the best of her knowledge:
(Lu clarified that the women professionals in the Taiwan Qiyuan would receive game fees for qualifying tournaments where there is a prize money requirement to be eligible, even if all six of them end up participating. In essence, whether game fees are given depends not on the player's gender but on the existence of a prize money eligibility requirement.)
Given this interpretation of the game fee policy, Lu's opinion was that the differential treatment of male and female players in the Qiandeng Cup qualifiers was not intended as gender discrimination against women. Rather, she thought that this result, although disappointing from the viewpoint of the female players and the Weiqi community, was consistent from a procedural standpoint (i.e. simply being consistent with the letter of the official rules regarding game fees).
Lu then argued that there isn't gender discrimination against women in the Taiwan Qiyuan when the eligibility requirements for qualifying tournaments are sometimes relaxed for the female players. In her view, there is only gender discrimination "if the male and female players are treated unequally despite that the eligibility criteria for tournament participation are the same." In the Qiandeng Cup case, for example, Lu feels that the eligibility criteria actually favors the women: all 6 female players were free to participate in the qualifiers, while the men needed to be ranked in the top 8 (out of 50+) in prize money to be eligible.
In closing, Lu encouraged players to participate in tournaments regardless of the amount of prize money. In addition, she called for increased sponsorship as a means to expand the development of professional Go.