Women still under-represented in sporting rolesSubscribe
Mairi Irvine 07 March 2007
Only one in five women take part in regular sport and active recreation - this is one of the key findings as UK Sport publish their 'Women in Sport - The State of Play' report, examining the role of women in terms of participation, performance & excellence and leadership. The purpose of the report, the only of its kind in the UK, is to raise awareness of any inequalities that women face at all levens and, in turn, to influence sports policy.
Conducted by the Women’s Sports Foundation, on behalf of UK Sport, the document presents a number of case studies highlighting initiatives designed to tackle any gender gaps and publishes statistics across a number of result areas. The report shows that women are under-represented in many areas of sport.
- 19% of women took part in regular sport and active recreation in the previous four weeks, compared with 24% of men. Amongst Asian women, this figure drops to 13%
- 571 female athletes received support through UK Sport and Home Country Sports Councils’ Performance and Pathway Programmes, representing 41% of the total number of athletes supported
- 29% of sports boards and committees are made up of women (in 2005-2006) – highlighting that action needs to be taken to address this
Amanda Bennett, UK Sport’s Head of Policy, welcomed the report:
“This is a timely report; on April 1st, the Gender Duty comes into force, bringing with it the biggest change to sex legislation since the 1970s. The Duty requires public authorities to promote gender equality and eliminate sex discrimination. This offers us all involved in sport an unprecedented opportunity to achieve equality in sports provision at all levels. The report allows us to determine the ‘state of play’ at this moment in time. Coupled with other initiatives that UK Sport and the Women’s Sports Foundation are leading, we are in a position to be able to study gender gaps in sport and address any areas of concern.”
Sue Tibballs, Chief Executive, of the Women’s Sports Foundation said:
“The State of Play report paints an alarming picture in certain areas. Women remain under-represented across sport: in decision-making positions, in media coverage and at the very grass-roots participation level. Whilst there have been signs of improvement, at the present rate it will still be many years before women achieve their potential in sport, either on the playing field or within the industry.”
Many of the UK and home country governing bodies, and regional sports organisations in England, are demonstrating their commitment to increasing participation in sport and physical activity by under-represented groups by working towards the ‘Equality Standard: A Framework for Sport’. This is an action planning tool, driven by UK Sport, home country sports councils and partner organisations, that support sports bodies in taking practical steps to achieve equality. By the end of 2006, 48 organisations had achieved the Foundation level with a number progressing to the Preliminary level.
Bennett continues: “The achievements and commitments by many sporting organisations to remove barriers to participation and to achieve equality inside their own places of work have been excellent. A project like this is a long-term initiative; we should not expect to see radical change overnight, but look for steady progress across key areas. That said, we would expect all sports organisations to show real commitment and make concerted efforts to increase women’s involvement particularly as diversity is at the heart of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
UK Sport is also leading the way in addressing the gap between the number of men and women in leadership positions in sport. The ‘Women and Leadership’ programme, developed by UK Sport’s policy team, in conjunction with the CCPR and British Olympic Foundation was designed as a direct result of previous reports outlining that although there had been an increase in women’s representation in leaderships positions, there was still some work to be done to try and improve opportunities. The three-year programme is a highly specialised project, targeting 15 women currently working in sport in this country, with the goal of equipping them with the skills and competencies to access high-level leadership positions in sport.