The backlash following the PDC’s decision this week to scrap the use of walk-on girls has been vociferous and impassioned. But it’s tradition, they cry. And look at all these women who are being put out of jobs!!

To date, almost 40,000 people have signed a petition to reinstate walk-on girls in the darts. And while the outraged continue to complain that their sport is being hijacked by the “pc, feminist brigade”, there is a sense that a real shift is happening.

On Wednesday, Ross Brawn, the managing director of Formula 1, announced that from the start of the 2018 season, they will no longer use grid girls. “While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 grand prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms,” he said. “We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”

I heartily applaud the decision of both the PDC and F1, although I remain slightly baffled as to why it’s taken until 2018 for people (read men) to come to the conclusion that having women involved in a sport purely for decoration is somewhat anachronistic.

Yes, a small number of women will lose their jobs as a result of these decisions by the PDC and F1 but the number of people who remain utterly blind to the bigger picture astonishes me. This week, I have been on both Radio Scotland and Scotland Tonight speaking of my support of this decision. Yet I have been in the minority in voicing my approval, with a significant number of people seemingly more concerned with protecting this “tradition” than acknowledging the fact that the picture painted by walk-on girls is that a woman’s greatest value is to stand beside a man while he pursues sporting success, shut their mouth and look pretty. The men can have all the accolades while the women are there for little more than to be ogled at.

Women’s sport remains chronically undervalued in modern-day society. Despite there being a significant number of truly exceptional female athletes, the most visible women in cycling, darts, boxing and F1 are the podium and walk-on girls. What a sad state of affairs.

It is, of course, not ideal for anyone to lose their job but should greater efforts not be put into promoting women’s sport and females who have gained success through hard work, skill, dedication and commitment rather than putting on a skimpy dress and parading, voiceless, beside men?

It says much for the sports in question that are resisting change that they have so little confidence in the sport itself they feel like they need walk-on girls to help sell it. Their priorities are, I would suggest, utterly misplaced if they feel like the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful event are some pretty girls in sequined dresses.

There is definitely a sea change beginning to happen though, albeit slowly. Not only has darts and F1 taken a step to drag themselves into the 21st century, but cycling has also taken a baby step forward. Podium girls in cycling are another “tradition” that seems to be considered sacrosanct, despite the fact that these women have had to contend with being felt-up and demeaned more than once in recent years.

Last month’s Tour Down Under replaced podium girls with junior riders, who presented the winners with their prizes. Surely even the most hardcore supporters of “tradition” can see this is a better idea?

The argument is regularly tossed-in that, in the grand scheme of things, this is a small thing. And yes, the issue of global sexism is not going to be addressed purely by getting rid of podium girls. But does that mean that if it is not a world-altering move then no one should bother?

Women’s sport is making strides but while female athletes appear to hold less value than the pretty girls holding cards up or kissing riders on the cheek, the chasm between men’s and women’s sport will remain gaping. And most of all, walk-on girls are unnecessary. Let the sport speak for itself. And let’s put our energy into fighting for the rights of women athletes rather than those who decorate men’s sporting events.