Divya Deshmukh’s Courageous Stand Against Sexism in Chess

Divya Deshmukh seated in front of a chessboard, demonstrating her prowess in the game.
Witness the brilliance of Divya Deshmukh as she strategizes her moves at the chessboard

In the world of chess, where strategy and intellect should be the focal points, Indian chess sensation Divya Deshmukh found herself fighting a different kind of battle. At the Tata Steel Masters tournament in Wijk Aan Zee, Netherlands, she faced not only her opponents on the chessboard but also the unsettling sexism of some spectators. In this article, we delve into Divya Deshmukh’s courageous stance against gender bias in chess and her call for equal respect for female players

Divya Deshmukh Standing Up Against Sexism

Divya Deshmukh, an 18 year old International Master from Nagpur, India, is not just a rising star in chess, she’s a voice that refuses to be silenced in the face of discrimination. During the Tata Steel Masters tournament, Divya encountered a disheartening reality, instead of focusing on her game, some spectators chose to scrutinize her appearance and accent.

In an Instagram post, Divya shared her experiences, stating, “I have been wanting to address this for a while but was waiting for my tournament to be over. I got told and also myself noticed how women in chess are often just taken for granted by spectators.” This statement resonates with the struggles many female athletes face across different sports.

Unfair Judgment and Misplaced Priorities

During the tournament, Divya Deshmukh faced disparaging comments about her clothes, hair and even her accent. It was a stark reminder that, too often, women in chess are judged based on factors unrelated to their skills on the board.

“I got told by people how the audience was not even bothered with the game but instead focused on every single possible thing in the world, my clothes, hair, accent and every other irrelevant thing,” Divya expressed in her Instagram post. The disparity in the attention received by male and female players is disheartening and highlights the need for change.

Inequality in Chess Coverage

Divya Deshmukh emphasized the unequal treatment of male and female players in media coverage. “I felt it was unfair because if I go to any guy’s interview, there would be way less judgment on a personal level, actual compliments about the game and the player,” she asserted. This disparity not only undermines the achievements of female players but also perpetuates gender bias in the sport.

A Call for Change

Despite the progress made in women’s sports in terms of pay scale and recognition, incidents like these remind us that sexism still exists in the world of sports. Divya Deshmukh’s courageous stance against this discrimination is a call for equal respect and recognition for women in chess and beyond.

Divya stated, “I think women face this on a daily basis, and I’m barely 18. I have faced so much judgment, including hatred over the years for things that don’t even matter. I think women should start getting equal respect.”


Divya Deshmukh’s experience at the Tata Steel Masters tournament serves as a stark reminder that the battle for gender equality is far from over, even in the intellectual arena of chess. Her determination to address sexism and call for change echoes the sentiments of countless female athletes who continue to face these challenges. As we celebrate Divya Deshmukh’s achievements in chess, let us also stand by her in the fight for equal respect and recognition for women in sports.


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