Gender Discrimination In Go /Sina Sports 2011-08-29

Note: the following is an attempt the translate the original [ext] article from Chinese into English. Any errors are the fault of the translator. Corrections are welcome.

Sina Sports Article


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 [ext] 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.


Currently, the Taiwan Qiyuan has a total of six female players: Joanne Missingham 5 dan, Zhang Kaixin 4 dan, Zhang Zhengping 2 dan, Su Shengfang 2 dan, Xiao Ailin 1 dan, and Dang Xiyun 1 dan.


[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 [ext] 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”.

Unofficial Reply

In response to the Qiandeng Cup controversy, Chief Secretary of Taiwan Qiyuan Lu Yijing [ext] 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:

  • Game fees are generally available for the qualifying matches of "formal" international tournaments (正式世界代表選拔賽) when players must meet a prize money requirement (獎金排名限制) to be eligible. Examples of such tournaments include the BC Card Cup and the Fujitsu Cup.
  • For most friendly tournaments (交流賽) and international tournaments for new professionals (國際新銳賽), game fees are typically not given. This is because budgeting for these events is difficult when they tend to allow for open entry.
  • The Qiandeng Cup is technically a friendly tournament, so the qualifying matches would normally be unpaid by rule. But because the Qiandeng Cup "involves strong opponents" and "comes with large prizes," the Taiwan Qiyuan hoped to represent itself with the strongest players. Hence, the men's division of the qualifiers were limited to the top 8 players in the prize money ranking. For the women's division, because there are only a few female players in the Taiwan Qiyuan, the qualifying matches allowed for open entry and thus made the women ineligible for game fees.

(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.

Gender Discrimination In Go /Sina Sports 2011-08-29 last edited by MrTenuki on September 16, 2011 - 21:40
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