What a drag it is to be an angry burd.

Perhaps that thought crossed the mind of silver medal-winning cyclist Lizzie Armitstead when, following her success on Sunday, she used the opportunity to talk about sexism in sport.

Conscious of the eye-rolling and sotto voce sneers her comments could provoke, she noted that as a female athlete, "you don't want to come across as negative and moaning". That may explain why, until now, she and her colleagues have kept their traps shut despite fuming over the unfairness.

Other women will know exactly how she feels. Being right is no guarantee of being taken seriously when the charge is sexism, not in an age when women are widely (and incorrectly) considered to have achieved equality.

Armitstead is not moaning; she is merely stating facts. Male cyclists get more money, media coverage and sponsorship than women who work just as hard and are at least as successful. Her frustration about the lack of sponsors for a women's road team that includes three Olympic medallists is entirely understandable. She believes cycling's ruling body should push sponsors to fund a women's squad (as they do a men's) and that there should be more coverage of women's sport.

Even casual observers can see that men's sport gets vastly more air time (with the exception of beach volleyball, for all the wrong reasons). Everyone knows Usain Bolt and Linford Christie, but how many can name a female 100m sprint champion? When sports like golf, football or rugby are highlighted in TV listings, they are not prefixed by the word "men's" – it is assumed few would wish to see the women's versions and while such assumptions go unchallenged, few ever will. Want to watch women's motor racing, snooker or darts? You'll be a long time searching. Titanic levels of prejudice persist from the days when such sports were men-only.

Sportsmen generally earn more than sportswomen. In tennis, although equal prize money is offered in grand slams, over the course of the year top women players earn less than men. Equal prize money was introduced at Wimbledon in 2007, but as recently as June French player Gilles Simon claimed women didn't deserve equal rewards, apparently because women's events draw fewer spectators. If they do, then why? Could it be that the women's game is always presented as being of secondary importance to the men's?

The structure of grand slams, culminating in the men's singles final, sends out a signal that the men's game is superior. It might help if women started playing up to five sets, like the men, but a change in the way the female game is promoted is also required. Following Simon's comments, fellow French player Marion Bartoli spoke for sportswomen of all disciplines when she said: "We put in as much as they do."

Yes, the Olympic motto is higher, faster, stronger, and men are all those things compared to women, but skill, talent and determination are what make for great viewing. Are we to believe that men's tennis, for instance, is vastly more enjoyable because Serena Williams's serve speed averages only 110 mph compared to around 120 mph for Roger Federer? Hardly.

Yesterday, two female rowers bagged Britain's first gold. Earlier this week, the women's football team beat Brazil. Women could win more medals than men for the first time, but the challenge will be to maintain their profile after the closing ceremony. In some sports, like swimming, gymnastics and equestrian eventing, there appears to be parity between the sexes. What's more, the BBC's Olympic coverage is dominated by three excellent women: former jockey Clare Balding, former gymnast Gabby Logan and Hazel Irvine.

All that helps, but it's not enough. These Olympics are supposed to be about inspiring a generation. A recent study found that only 12% of schoolgirls are reaching required fitness levels by 14 because they see sport as unfeminine. That's a disaster in the making. The culture of adult sport must change so that women and girls feel sport is for them, not a male preserve they are muscling in on.

Only when a women's sporting event pushes EastEnders off the BBC One schedule, like men's football frequently does, will true parity have been achieved.