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Women in Sport

Gender equity in leadership, governance and the workplace

In sport, as in many other industries, women are generally under-represented in leadership and governance positions. This includes board appointments, executive leadership, high performance and/or head coaching roles. While various reasons are suggested for why, it seems a series of social, cultural and sometimes procedural barriers remain.

Leadership and governance

Coaching and officiating

Professionalisation and pay equity

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Additional resources

  • The case for change, Sport New Zealand, (2018). This provides an overview of research illustrating the 'case for change' for women and girls in sport. The focus areas are: leadership; participation; and value and visibility.
  • Women in Sport Leadership: 2020 Snapshot, Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity, (2020). This report summarises the composition, and year to year change, of decision-making at Candian national sport organisations, multisport service organisations and Canadian sport institutes.
  • ACT on track to reach 40 percent female representation on sporting boards, Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry MLA, ACT Government, (November 2019). The ACT is making progress to bring more women onto sports boards and sports are showing they understand and support the need for change. Of the 28 peak sporting bodies triennially funded through the ACT Government’s Sport and Recreation Grants Program, more than half have now reached the target or higher.
  • Talent Programs launched to challenge gender diversity, Sport Australia, (7 March 2019). Former Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer and AIS CEO Peter Conde have challenged 33 women embarking on ground-breaking leadership programs, to use the experience to help drive greater diversity in Australian sport.
  • The dial is shifting for gender equality in sport – just not fast enough, Kate Palmer, Sport Australia, (8 March 2019). This op-ed, written for International Women's Day 2019, highlights that the quest for gender equality in sport has come a long way, but the starting point was a long way behind. Women comprise 24% of CEOs across the 63 national sporting organisations funded by Sport Australia and the AIS. The number across the high performance coaching system is 15%, while a mere 9% of accredited Australian Olympic coaches in Rio were female. The ASX shares this historic under-representation, which does not make it right. Sport Australia announced 33 successful candidates to join AIS Talent Programs, designed to identify and develop female sport executives and high performance coaches.
  • Let's stop calling it women's sport, Kate Palmer, Sport Australia, (7 February 2019). It’s time to rewrite the language of Australian sport. We need to drop the unnecessary, divisive labels and erase the gender bias that has become accepted and ingrained. We have made one of the biggest shifts in the participation of women in sport in this country in the past five years, while the tipping point at the elite level came with the recent growth of domestic professional leagues and the rising profiles of national teams. But let’s not be complacent, because we still need to keep growing the role of women in sport. We need to create more opportunity for participation, for developing leaders and coaches and for increasing the number and importance of female roles across all levels of sport. We must continue to build on the significant progress that has already been made.
  • No Boundaries for Women and Girls in Sport, Australian Women in Sport Advisory Group, Victoria University, (18 December 2019). Australian business, government and sport leaders are being urged to back a new strategy to achieve gender equality in sport by 2025.
  • VicHealth’s Position on Women in Leadership Roles in Sport, VicHealth, (17 December 2018). VicHealth aims to increase the representation of women on the governing bodies of sporting organisations it partners with. Announced on January 2017, VicHealth’s position is that, by 1 July 2019, selected sport and recreation organisations in receipt of VicHealth funding, will be required to have a minimum 40% self-identified females on the governing body.
  • Golf Australia's Vision 2025: The future of women and girls in golf, Golf Australia, (February 2019). On 13 February 2019, Golf Australia launched a new strategy aiming at addressing a fundamental imbalance in Australian golf where women currently make up just 20% of all members. The four main pillars of Vision 2025 are: culture and leadership; grassroots; high performance coaching; and marketing and postitioning.
  • No boundaries for women and girls in sport and physical activity, Australian Women in Sport Advisory Group, (2019). Our vision is that there are no boundaries for women and girls in sport and physical activity. Our goal is to achieve this by 2025, but what does it look like, and how will we know when we have made it? Here we set out what we are striving for, actions to take and measures of success. Key members of the sport sector, governments and industry are onboard.
  • FIFA Women’s Development Programme, (8 September 2020). In line with FIFA’s Women’s Football Strategy, the FIFA Women’s Development Programme aims to provide all 211 member associations with the opportunity to apply for and access additional resources and specialist expertise to develop women’s football at a national level. Member associations will be able to apply for support across 8 key areas of women’s football development during the 2020-2023 period. In addition to financial assistance to cover the costs in selected programmes, the FIFA Women’s Development Programme will also provide member associations with access to women’s football experts, additional equipment and technical support within FIFA to develop women’s football in their country.
  • Our Future Female Leaders Program, Bowls Australia, (accessed 18 September 2020). Our Future Female Leaders Program is tailored to women in management, administration, advisory and coaching roles within Bowls Australia, state and territory associations and clubs Australia-wide. The program has come to fruition with significant support provided from Sport Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).
  • Women's mentoring program, Surf Life Saving Australia, (2 July 2020). Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) is proud to announce the first ever Women’s Mentoring Program with 40 women from across the country to take part. From the 160 applications received, 20 mentors and 20 mentees were selected to participate in the program which was designed to strengthen leadership skills and develop the next generation of female leaders to position Surf Life Saving for the future.
  • World Triathlon resumes the Mentorship Programme, Olalla Cernuda, World Triathlon, (1 July 2020). World Triathlon Development, together with the Women’s Committee, is delighted to announce the launch of a re-envisaged World Triathlon Mentor Programme to be delivered virtually, with the goal to increase and sustain the number of women and people with disability in leadership roles in coaching, technical officiating and governance in the sport.
  • 6 women in sport on sexism, progress and what’s needed next, Jessica Halloran, Vogue, (16 December 2019). For a long time, the notion of women in sport was met with scorn, condescension and blatant sexism, but times have changed. Here, award-winning sports journalist Jessica Halloran, who has witnessed the victories for female athletes on and off the field in recent years, champions the trailblazing women behind the movement and explores what’s still needed to achieve gender equality.
  • Balance the Board, Victorian Government Change our Game media, (2019). By 1 July 2019, all sport and active recreation organisations funded by Sport and Recreation Victoria and the Victorian Government will be expected to comply with the mandatory 40% women on boards quota. Organisations that are not at the mandatory quota by 1 July 2019 risk losing funding through the Supporting Victorian Sport and Recreation program.
  • Building a pipeline of female sports leaders, Matthew Campelli, Sustainability Report, (12 March 2019). Despite progress being made by some sports organisations, representation of women at leadership level is still low. How can the sector overcome its ‘pipeline problem’?
  • California Just Made It Illegal to Pay Women Less Than Men In Sporting Events on State Lands, Dylan Heyden, The Inertia, (12 September 2019). California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a landmark bill that will now make it illegal for sports organisations to pay male and female competitors differently at any sporting event held on state lands. AB 467, also called the 'Equal Pay for Equal Play' measure, initially drew inspiration from the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing and their fight for equal pay for women big wave surfers at Maverick’s.
  • Changing the gender imbalance in Australian sports coaching, Steve Pallas, Sports Community, (accessed 22 January 2021). In this time, where volunteers are harder and harder to find, how many coaches and for that matter team managers are being lost to sport simply because they are not being given an opportunity? The issue of imbalance highlights a cultural weakness in Australian sport. In the absence of reason to the contrary, the behaviours of individuals, especially new individuals into a club environment, will default to the existing culture and behaviour exhibited by club members. For generations, generally, this default position is men filling the leadership roles within clubs and sport.
  • Developing gender equality indicators in sports, European Institute for Gender Equality, Council of Europe, (January 2016). This Microsoft PowerPoint presentation highlights some of the strategic goals for gender equality, current state and examples of policies to promote gender-balanced participation in decision-making in sport.
  • Embedding female leaders in the heart of New Zealand sports, Suzanne McFadden, LockerRoom and stuff.co.nz, (27 August 2020). Across 28 targeted sports in New Zealand, there are only four women appointed as high performance directors or managers. Less than a quarter of the country’s 114 carded coaches (who receive support from HPSNZ) are female. The woman leading the Women in High Performance Sport project, Sonia Boland, says there’s no shortage of talented and capable females wanting a career in high performance sport, but there is a failure within the system to support their progression through the ranks.
  • Exclusive: Major sports bodies guilty of 'shocking' lack of women's representation at board level [paywall], Tim Wigmore, The Telegraph, (18 November 2019). A major investigation by Telegraph Sport into gender diversity in international sports federations has revealed that women continue to be gravely under-represented at executive level.
  • Far-reaching Gender Equality Strategy a First for Sport, Sheila Robertson, Canadian Journal for Women in Coaching/Commonwealth Games Federation, (2016?). Provides a detailed overview of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Gender Equality Strategy (GES). GES goals focus on: organising committees; women coaches; broadcasters and media; athlete participation; officiating; Commonwealth development; governance; leadership development; mission staff; and outreach.
  • Female membership of IOC Commissions reaches an all-time high of 47.7 per cent - Two new female chairs, International Olympic Committee, (28 May 2020). This all-time high is a concrete manifestation of one of the key focuses of the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms—to encourage the whole Olympic movement to advance gender equality both on and off the field. Since 2013, as a result of Olympic Agenda 2020, female participation in the IOC commissions has more than doubled (up from 20% in 2013).
  • Female referees: What is it like to officiate games? Alistair Magowan, BBC Sport, (11 November 2018). Life as a female referee can sometimes be daunting.
  • Getting results on women in leadership: Employers must ditch what they think works and do what actually works, Diversity Council Australia, (27 February 2014). The Diversity Council Australia (DCA) has reviewed a range of the latest research on leadership and concluded that many programs aimed at increasing the representation of women are failing to deliver results. Current evidence suggests that some initiatives are more effective than others. In particular: actively sponsoring women into leadership positions; addressing bias at every level; adopting broader definitions of what leadership looks like; and public accountability via reporting on measurable outcomes, may actually deliver results. This article provides an overview of what strategies appear to work and which do not.
  • Girls need more confidence to coach, research shows, Youth Sports Trust, (5 April 2019). Data released today by children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust shows more than one in three girls have a desire to coach/lead in school but only a small number are currently taking up the opportunity. Girls who were coaches, leaders or admin support had higher levels of body confidence, overall confidence and happiness.
  • How female cricket coaches are blocked by the league of gentlemen, Raf Nicholson, The Guardian, (17 May 2019). Change is afoot, but statistics make bleak reading as women struggle to break down barriers to coach top-level cricket. Since 2014, when the England and Wales Cricket Board made history by announcing the first professional contracts in the world, it has been possible, as a woman, to play the game for a living. Yet coaching is lagging far behind. None of the men’s counties is coached by a woman. In 2018, only one Kia Super League side had a female coach—the former Australia batter Alex Blackwell. There are no women working as coaches in the England men’s or women’s setups.
  • How much do Australian sportswomen get paid? Danielle Warby (blog), (14 November 2019). The author highlights that although it is difficult (or impossible) to provide exact information on how much female athletes are paid, this is an attempt to show some of the current minimum wage arrangements and conditions for women's professional sports including: cricket, football, netball, rugby league and rugby union. The blog also highlights the amounts some high profile female sports stars (Sam Kerr, Ellyse Perry, Sam Stosur, Ash Barty, Stephanie Gilmore) earn.
  • Kate Jacewicz says time will tell if she's a trailblazer despite A-League refereeing debut, Simon Smale, ABC News, (22 January 2020). Jacewicz became the first woman to referee an A-League match in the competition's 15-year history when she took charge of Melbourne City's 2-0 victory over Newcastle Jets on Saturday evening.
  • Lacking Number of Female Refs in Professional Sports, Female Referees in Professional Sports, (accessed 25 July 2019). Throughout the years of the NBA, there has only been 3 official, full-time female referees in the last 69 years. However, compared to the NFL, it's a drastic difference. The NFL has been around for 95 years and only hired one full-time female referee this season. So, why has there been, and still is, a low number of female referees in these professional sports?
  • 'Little bit surprised': NRL appoints first female referee, Adam Pengilly, The Sydney Morning Herald, (15 July 2019). Belinda Sharpe will on Tuesday be confirmed as the first woman to take control of an NRL match, assigned as the assistant referee for Thursday night's Broncos and Bulldogs clash at Suncorp Stadium.
  • Male-dominated sports organisations getting desperate for women, as time runs out, Olivia Caldwell, stuff.co.nz , (3 July 2019). For five years, Sport New Zealand has been pushing sports organisations to get more women on their boards. Last month, its patience gave out, when it announcing a 'do-it-or-else' funding ultimatum to the laggards. The gender target for boards must be reached by December 2021, or funding will be on the line.
  • Mandatory Board Quotas, VicSport, (2019). Dr Bridie O'Donnell, Head, Office for Women and Sport and Recreation along with a few state sport associations share their insights as to how they are taking action in order to meet the mandatory board quota by July 1 2019.
  • 'Nothing will change': More is needed to boost Australian women's referee numbers, AAP/SBS, (20 September 2019). The share of female referees in three of Australia's biggest sporting codes is static or declining, despite an explosion in the number of women playing sport.
  • Primetime professionals… still a man’s game? Chelsea Litchfield, Jacquelyn Osborne, Broad Agenda, (15 October 2019). Today on BroadAgenda, Dr Chelsea Litchfield and Dr Jaquelyn Osborne examine pay increases and media exposure in these sports and argue that there is much more that could be done in the space of women’s elite, professional sport.
  • Referee Stéphanie Frappart: 'Girls see me on TV and know it's possible', Paul Doyle, The Guardian, (11 August 2019). The official is regarded as one of France’s very best and will take charge of Liverpool versus Chelsea in Istanbul on Wednesday.
  • Sexism in Collegiate Swim Coaching: Experiences of Coaches, Jessica Siegele, Robin Hardin, Elizabeth Taylor, Allison Smith, Athletic Director U, (2020). In 2019, there were 208 Division 1 women’s swim teams in the NCAA. Exactly 33 had a female head coach. It is a sobering statistic that nearly 85% of the leadership in a women’s sport is male. The data tells the story of what has been termed a leaky pipeline. In Division 1 collegiate swimming, women are entering the profession as assistant coaches (40%); however, they are not ascending to the ranks of head coach (15%). We interviewed 21 female coaches regarding their experiences in coaching in NCAA Division 1 swimming. The experiences of the participants in this study revealed a pervasiveness of gender bias and sexism in the swim coaching profession. Sexism was manifested in five general categories: misidentification, differential treatment; tokenism; isolation; and motherhood.
  • Sports Federations leading the way to increase percentage of female coaches and technical officials, International Olympic Committee, (16 September 2020). Women’s sport has made significant progress recently, but efforts to ensure gender balance on and off the field of play continue. Just 10%of accredited coaches at the Olympic Summer and Winter Games over the past decade were female, with women accounting for 30% of technical officials over the same period. The latest in a series of six online sessions was devoted to sharing concrete examples of programs that sports federations can implement in order to ensure a higher percentage of female coaches and technical officials in the future.
  • Sports struggling to appoint more female directors as diversity deadline looms, Suzanne McFadden, Newsroom.co.nz, (26 April 2019). The push to get more women in sports governance roles before a 2021 deadline is proving difficult, with some sports putting their hand up for help. Failure to reach the 40% ratio could affect a sport’s future funding from the government—a matter that will come up for discussion in Sport NZ’s investment decision rounds next year.
  • Unleashing the Value of Women’s Sport Fact sheet, NSW Office of Sport, (2017). Growing sport for girls makes good business sense. It also helps address the gender imbalance in sport participation and contributes to improving health, social and equality issues.
  • The war on women coaches, Laura Burton, Professor of Sport Management, University of Connecticut and Nicole LaVoi, Senior Lecturer Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Minnesota, The Conversation, (4 June 2019). During the past women’s college basketball season, two prominent head coaches, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s Sylvia Hatchell and Georgia Tech’s MaChelle Joseph, were fired.
  • Why are there not more female referees in rugby? Leana Kell, Centurion Rugby, (accessed 22 January 2020). In 2015, Sarah Cox made history when she became the first female rugby referee to join the RFU match official team. Other successful women referees, such as Clare Hodnett and Australian referee Amy Perrett, are currently paving the way for other female referees and raising hopes that before long things will change. However, if we consider the here and now, rugby continues to lack female referees.
  • Women in Sport: New report calls for culture change at all levels, BBC Sport, (20 June 2018). Provides an overview of some of the findings from the Women in Sport Beyond 30% - Workplace Culture in Sport report that was based on surveys of more than 1,000 people working in sport. Of those surveyed, 38% of women working in sport said they had experienced active discrimination because they were female, compared to 21% of men. 30% of women working in sport and 11% of men had experienced what they called 'inappropriate behaviour' from the opposite sex. 72% of men working in sport said they believed there is 'fair and equal treatment of men and women in their organisation', compared to 46% of women. 58% of women said they felt they had to prove themselves more than men, whereas 42% of men said the same.
  • WNBA Announces The Officials For The 2018 Playoffs, WNBA media release, (20 August 2018). The WNBA today announced the 16 referees who have earned spots to officiate in the 2018 WNBA Playoffs.
  • Women Are Largely Untapped Resource In Alleviating Youth Sports Referee Shortage, Bob Cook, Forbes, (16 June 2017). Ever since the Journal News in Westchester County, New York ran an excellent piece on the referee shortage in school sports in May, I've seen a lot of other pieces designed to localise the ongoing crisis in finding enough officials to staff youth games.
  • Women on Boards, Play by the Rules, (2015). Play by the Rules has devised a short list of ideas to help your club or sport organisation encourage more women to get involved in leadership.
  • #WorldAtHerFeet: Women’s Football Shatters Records but Obstacles Still Stand in Way of Progress, says BCW report, Europe Decides, (29 May 2019). 2019 is shaping up to be a year of transformation for women’s football with record-breaking crowds, major sponsorship deals and increasing levels of coverage. The Women’s World Cup (7 June to 7 July) could reach a billion viewers and eclipse the cricket and rugby world cups, but obstacles still stand in the way of progress and equality in the female game, according to the #WorldAtHerFeet report unveiled today by BCW (Burson Cohn and Wolfe).
  • 2017 Sport and Recreation Paid Workforce survey, Angus and Associates for Sport New Zealand, (June 2017). This report presents the findings of the 2017 Sport and Recreation Paid Workforce Survey. The results outlined in this report are based on a total sample of n=1,145 paid employees of 114 organisations in the sport and recreation sector. These organisations include a broad cross-section of national sports organisations (NSOs), regional sports organisations (RSOs), regional sports trusts (RSTs), national recreation organisations (NROs), territorial authorities (TAs), and relevant government agencies/ crown entities. The workforce profile has a slight skew towards female employees when compared to the population profile by gender. The workforce of RSTs and NROs is significantly female skewed, while the reverse is true of RSOs and NSOs.
  • A snapshot of coaches in women's sports in 2018/19, Level One, (2019). For their inaugural snapshot Level One collected data for 2018 - 2019 from various women’s professional, semiprofessional and amateur leagues, as well as global women’s national team competitions, which had publicly available information regarding the gender of the participating head coaches. They focused on the team sports of soccer, basketball, netball, volleyball and softball. Five global national team competitions and 24 domestic leagues were analysed. Overall, in these leagues and competitions: 40% of head coaches were women. One national team competition (netball) featured a female head coach for the majority of participating teams. Seven leagues featured a female head coach for the majority of participating teams, including: basketball, NCAA Championship (USA); softball, NCAA Championship (USA); netball: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa and the UK.
  • About Time! Women in sport and recreation in Australia, Australian Government; The Senate, Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee, (September 2006). The Committee’s terms of reference were to inquire into women in sport and recreation in Australia, with particular reference to: (a) the health benefits of women participating in sport and recreation activities; (b) the accessibility for women of all ages to participate in organised sport, fitness and recreation activities; (c) the portrayal of women’s sport in the media; and (d) women in leadership roles in sport.
  • Advancement in Sport Coaching and Officiating Accreditation, University of New England for Australian Sports Commission and Active Australia, (2001). This report identifies many gender inequities, but states that substantive reasons for the over representation of male coaches and officials are not clear. For women to be treated equally in sport they need to have access to, and involvement in, all aspects of sport—including coaching, officiating, and administration. Female coaches at the elite level (Olympic and Paralympic Games) have been particularly underrepresented and although small increases have occurred in recent years, the majority of coaches at Olympic level are male.
  • The AusPlay Survey (AusPlay) is a large scale national population tracking survey funded and led by Sport Australia that tracks Australian sport and physical activity participation behaviours to help inform investment, policy and sport delivery. Updated data is provided biannually in April and October.
  • Beyond 30% – Workplace Culture in Sport ReportWomen in Sport, (June 2018). Currently, women are under-represented in senior leadership roles and on boards in the sector. There is also evidence of discrimination and negative workplace culture. This needs to change in order to create an environment in which both women and men thrive and to nurture the pipeline of talented female leaders for the future.
  • Chasing Equity: The Triumphs, Challenges, and Opportunities in Sports for Girls and Women, Women's Sports Foundation, (January 2020). In this report, we examine the state of girls’ and women’s sport in the United States through a broad lens, looking at the triumphs, the challenges and the tremendous opportunities that are yet to be realised. One area of focus is workplace bias and wage gaps in sport. The report highlights that despite the assumption that increased female participation in sport would lead to more women working in, and leading, sports organisations this has not occurred. Women are impacted at various levels of their career, often leading them to select a different career path or field altogether, rather than persist within sport. Much work remains before fair access at all levels of sport is achieved. Key statistics in the report follow:
    • Women held, on average, less than a quarter of head coach or athletic director positions in all levels of the NCAA.
    • In the US Olympic and Paralympic Committees, women comprise approximately 37.5% of members and approximately 33% of positions on the boards of US national governing bodies.
    • Of the 66 main coaches for the US Olympic team at the 2018 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, 8 (12.1%) were female. Seven of the eight coached figure skating or ice dancing (i.e. more traditional feminine roles).
    • At the professional athlete level, women's competitions often have not only fewer teams, but also a more limited number of allowed players. The 30 NBA teams can each have up to 15 players, while the 12 WNBA teams are limited to 12 roster spots. The six National Pro Fastpitch Softball teams are limited to 26 players for a total of 156 players, while the 30 Major League Baseball regular-season rosters are limited to 25 for a total of 750 players.
  • Facts and figures on gender (in)equalities and differences, Fact Sheet #1 of the Toolkit: How to make an impact on gender equality in sport All you need to know, European Union and the Council of Europe, (September 2019). This factsheet is composed of five sections presenting facts and figures relating to gender inequalities and differences in participation (from grass-roots to elite sport), coaching, leadership and the media and to the prevalence of gender-based violence in sports.
  • Gender and Coaching Report Card: London 2012 Olympics, 6th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport, Helsinki, Finland, (June 2014). This report provides figures from London 2012 on women’s participation in the summer Olympic and Paralympic Games and on the gender of coaches. It also offers a few case studies that illustrate the discrepancies that exist in the number of male and female coaches by country and by continent. The number of female participants in the Olympic Games (44.2%) and Paralympic Games (35.4%) increased slightly in 2012. However, the overall percentage of female coaches was only 11%. This report also contains a breakdown by country of the number of male and female accredited coaches at the Games.
  • Gender Balance in Global Sport Report, 2nd report, Tranter R, Medd R and Braund C, Women on Boards, (2016). This report was written in the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games to update the inaugural report published in June 2014. This report provides an updated publicly available dataset on the number of women serving on boards of sports governing bodies; the gender pay gaps in certain sports; and case studies on sports that are successfully addressing the gender gap. The core data set includes information from 129 of the 206 National Olympic Committees; 27 Paralympic Committees; 28 International Sports Federations; 14 Paralympic International Sports Federations; 59 National Governing Bodies (NGBs) in the United Kingdom and 57 National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) in Australia. Overall findings include: (1) the number of women in elite governing bodies of the Olympic movement remains below 30%; (2) female representation on National Olympic Committees has fallen a further one per cent over the past two years and now stands at 16.6%; (3) female representation on International Sports Federations has remained static at close to 18%. Statistics vary from sport-to-sport and across countries. For example, at international level, only Tennis recorded a significant increase in the percentage of female board members, but it was coming off a base of zero percent in 2014; Taekwondo, Aquatics, Boxing and Wrestling all recorded a slight increase in the percentage of female board members. In Paralympic sports, only the boards of Table Tennis, Basketball, Curling and Bocca recorded an increase in the number of women on their boards. 20 National Olympic Committees recorded a 5% or greater reduction in the number of women on their boards, while 28 improved by more than 5%. Again, many of the top performers came off a zero base. Only Malawi, Australia, Bermuda, Norway, New Zealand, Kiribati, Samoa and Tuvalu have at least 40% or more women on their national Olympic boards and committees; the USA has 31.3% females and the UK has 26.7%. Tables identifying the changes (from 2014 to 2016) in the representation of women on national sports boards in the two focus countries (i.e. UK and Australia) are presented in this report. In addition, this report addresses the gender gap in earnings between male and female athletes in the same sport, sponsorships and other earnings were not included; two case studies — football (soccer) and cricket, are provided.
    • Gender balance in global sport report, 1st report, Braund C, Women on Boards, (2014). This report reveals that many of the top international sports governing bodies have not done enough to ensure that a representative number of board positions are held by women. Among International Sports Federations surveyed, the average female representation was only about 15% and National Olympic Committees 16.5%. These figures exist despite a pre-Sydney 2000 Olympic Games target set by the International Olympic Committee to achieve a minimum of 20% women on all boards of Olympic sports by 2005.
  • Gender equality in sport: Getting closer every day, Ivana Katsarova; graphics: Samy Chahr, European Parliamentary Research Service Briefing, (March 2019). Briefing paper covers background and research relating to gender equality and sport. Specific focus areas include: women's (long) road to the Olympics; women in sports-related decision-making; women as coaches; gender pay inequalities; gender-related stereotypes in media representation; popularity and coverage of women's sports events in the EU; and European parliament views on gender equality in sport.
  • Gender Equity: What it will take to be the best, Richmond Football Club in partnership with Bluestone Edge, Australian Football League and the Australian Sports Commission, (2014). Sport, as a reflection of our wider society, is not an industry shared equally between men and women and gender inequity remains firmly entrenched, particularly at the leadership and governance level of most sports. The leadership of the Richmond Football Club decided it needed to more effectively engage with female stakeholders, internally and externally, to improve business performance. This report presents an abridged version of the overall research findings, so that gender equity may become a sustainable reality in sport. Nine themes were identified: (1) an equity mindset; (2) the right kind of support for women; (3) recognising the stress of the status quo; (4) women’s brand in football; (5) the role of men as learners, partners and leaders; (6) the visibility and voice of women; (7) workplace access and flexibility; (8) recruitment and attraction; and (9) affirmative action, measurement and reporting. The issues, focus areas and themes arising from the research have been distilled to form an overarching framework, which highlights key areas and suggested interventions that Richmond Football Club and other sporting organisations can make to embed gender equity and diversity in the management and governance of their organisation. Four strategic areas for change are identified: structural, cultural, leadership and business; with strategies suggested for each.
  • Gender equity in college coaching and administration: Perceived barriers report, Bracken N, National Collegiate Athletic Association, (2009). This is the second study conducted by the NCAA to measure career aspirations and perceptions of careers in intercollegiate athletics among women. A total of 8900 athletes, 1475 coaches, 1107 sports administrators and 1127 officials were surveyed. This report presents 25 findings and makes 6 suggestions for improvement. While the majority of women coaches expressed satisfaction with their current overall employment; some indicated dissatisfaction with the equality of the sexes within athletics departments, unequal salary (women generally receive less for comparable jobs), and level of stress involved with the job. Family commitments were the most cited reasons for female coaches leaving a career in intercollegiate coaching. Suggested strategies for increasing women’s involvement in intercollegiate coaching, officiating and administration included: (1) market coaching, officiating, and sports administration as viable career option for women; (2) make practical experiences known to aspiring career-oriented women; (3) increase in-service training opportunities for women; (4) create networking and communication opportunities to connect with successful women in the field; (5) develop mentoring programs; and (6) encourage institutions to look at their hiring practices and procedures.
  • Gender Report Card: 2016 International Sports Report Card on Women in Leadership Roles, Dr. Richard Lapchick, et.al., Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), University of Central Florida, (2016). The Report Card covers the international sports federations affiliated with the International Olympic Committee, called the International Federations (IFs), the national federations affiliated to each IF, the regional zone confederations, the International Olympic Committee itself and the United States Olympic Committee. The lack of women in leadership positions in international sport has been a problem for many years. This Report Card is the most extensive coverage to date and is the first time that grades have been issued. More than 8,500 leadership positions were examined.
  • Interim Report of the Government’s Women and Sport Advisory Board, United Kingdom, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Women and Sport Advisory Board, (October 2014). Just over a year after its inception, the Women and Sport Advisory Board released this interim report to provide an overview of the key issues surrounding women and sport and provide a snapshot of action by the government, its primary delivery bodies for sport (i.e. Sport England and UK Sport) and key stakeholders. Sport England’s research has identified three areas that present barriers to participation: (1) emotional barriers, many women do not have a positive relationship with sport; (2) capability barriers, many women have the perception that they are not good enough; and (3) opportunity barriers, such as lack of time due to family priorities. Women’s sport media coverage increased during the 2012 London Olympics, but has fallen back to just 7% of total coverage. The value of sponsorship going to women’s sport in the UK was just 0.4% of the total. The number of women on sports boards is gradually increasing and currently sits at 27%, although about half of all National Governing Bodies (NGBs) report that less than a quarter of their board are women. The percentage of women coaches has increased to 28%. Increasing women’s participation in sport is a key part of the Government’s Youth and Community Sport Strategy aimed at addressing these inequities.
  • 6285.0 - Involvement in Organised Sport and Physical Activity, Australia, April 2010, Australian Bureau of Statistics, (November 2010). In the 12 months prior to interview, an estimated 4.5 million people aged 15 years and over (26%) reported that they were involved in organised sport and physical activity. This included 3.8 million people involved in playing roles (22% of persons aged 15 years and over), and 1.6 million people involved in non-playing roles (9%). Of the 1.6 million people with a non-playing role, 56% also had a playing role (Table 1). Includes statistics relating to non-playing roles including coaching and officiating.
  • IOC Gender Equality Review Project, International Olympic Committee, (2018). The project findings emphasise that if gender equality initiatives are to be successfully implemented and sustained, all recommendations should be fulfilled. Achieving across-the-board gender equality in sport also requires clear timelines for action, with identified responsibilities, and follow-up monitoring and evaluation. Five themes are identified in the report including sport (participation, rules, competition formats, venues, safeguarding, career transitions, coaches, officials, etc.); portrayal (balanced media portrayals and communication partnerships); funding; governance (leadership development, electoral processes, roles and responsibilities); and HR monitoring and communications (inclusive leadership, monitoring progress and communications plan).
  • NCAA Demographics Database [data visualisation dashboard], National Collegiate Athletic Association, (accessed 22 January 2021). Provides access and visualisation of self-reported data sourced from active NCAA member schools on the gender, race and ethnicity for all coaching and administrative positions within each school from 2008-2019.
  • Pathway to Pay Equality: Elite women athletes, Male Champions of Change Sport, (February 2019). The pathway to pay equality involves many dimensions, and sports may find that achieving pay equality takes several years. However, success within any single part of the ecosystem makes success in the other parts more likely. the report identifies three distinct stages (pre-professional, a fair and reasonable wage, standalone pay) and a strategic focus, practical goals and actions for each.
  • Press for Progress Report 2018/19: to be the leading sport for women and girls, Cricket Australia, (2019). This is the second annual report relating to the aspiration 'to be the leading sport for women and girls', set out in the Australian Cricket Strategy 2017-2022. It reports on representation of women in director (26%), executive management (34%), other management (29%) and total employee roles (34%). The 2020 target for all categories is minimum 40% representation of men and women across every level of the Australian Cricket workforce.
  • Prime Time: the case for commercial investment in women's sport, The Commission on the Future of Women's Sport [UK], (2015). According to UK sports fans, women’s sport is exciting, skilful, internationally successful and growing faster than men’s. Some of the best of women’s sport is already attracting sizeable audiences and wide media interest, and there is clear demand from sports fans for more. Yet it attracts just a tiny percentage of sponsorship and broadcast expenditure—hundreds, if not thousands of times less than men’s sport. New, independent research and analysis provides strong evidence to suggest women’s sport is being overlooked and under-valued. There is a compelling case for increased investment in a market that’s different to men’s sport; and yet one that offers unique commercial and social potential. Taking a new approach to a different market and working creatively in partnership with rights holders, sponsors, broadcasters and government may lead to a significant return.
  • Profiling the Australian High Performance and Sports Science Workforce, Dr Andrew Dawson, Dr Kylie Wehner, Dr Paul Gastin, et.al., Exercise and Sport Science Australia, (December 2013). This research project was a cross-sectional, predominantly quantitative study to collect population data of the Australian High Performance and Sports Science workforce and the sport administrators that employ them. Two independent online survey instruments were employed to collect data from these two participant groups. Participants in this research project were Australian high performance and sports science employees (n = 210) and Sports Administrators (n = 32). The majority of respondents were male (72%). When examining the current position titles of respondents, several were male-dominated, particularly in strength and conditioning (n=36), where almost 92% of respondents were male. High performance managers (n=31) and sports physiologists (n=24), were also predominantly male, accounting for 81% and 79% of this cohort, respectively. In comparison, females were more likely to work as sports scientists (n=35) and sports biomechanists (n=16), comprising 37% of each group.
  • Raising our Game: lifting up women's professional football, FIFPRO, (2020). FIFPRO launched Raising Our Game in 2020, a forward-thinking report about women’s professional football, which puts players at the heart of the planned development and rebuilding of the sport after the coronavirus pandemic. The report, compiled with KPMG Football Benchmark, charts the economic evolution of the game, covering match-day attendance, TV audiences and sponsorship and details player conditions at club and national team level.
  • Secondary school programme: Girls leadership through cricket - Independent evaluation, Centre for Sport, Physical Education and Activity Research at Canterbury Christ Church University for Chance to Shine, (2020). The research assessed the Chance to Shine Secondary School Girls Programme, which worked with 1,700 specifically trained ‘Young Leaders’, with a further 2,200 girls taking part in after-school clubs in over 100 state schools across the country. At the end of the programme there was a ‘statistically significant’ increase in the number of girls who said they were active every day (from 34% to 39.6%). This was also reflected in changing the girls’ attitudes towards the sport, with just over three quarters (78%) saying they ‘wanted to play more cricket than before’. Young Leaders were first trained to take on coaching responsibilities in sessions and then supported to put those skills into practice in after-school clubs and organising and leading primary school cricket festivals. The research showed statistically significant growth in key leadership traits, including confidence, resilience, creativity and adaptability.
  • Trophy Women? 2015: No more board games, Women in Sport, UK, (2015). Following six years of research by Women in Sport into the gender diversity of sports boards, female representation on the boards of National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and other sports organisations that are funded and supported by Sport England and UK Sport is finally averaging 30%, compared to the first survey (21%) conducted in 2009. However, further analysis suggests that barriers that existed six years ago persist. There is still variation in the progress made by individual NGBs and publicly funded sport organisations. This report showcases best practice and identifies areas where there has been less change.
  • Women at the Olympic Games: statistics, International Olympic Committee, (accessed 22 Janaury 2021). Highlights a number of key statistics from athlete participation to the number of accredited coaches and women in leadership positions within the International Olympic Committee (IOC), international federations and national Olympic committees. The number of women athletes at the Olympic Games is approaching 50%. Since 2012, women have participated in every Olympic sport at the games. The number of women in leadership positions is also rising in many Olympic organisations. However, women continue to be underrepresented as coaches at the Olympic Games. The Gender Equality Review Project has highlighted the need to address the imbalance in coaching.
  • Women in College Coaching Report Card: A comprehensive report on caoching position composition of Women's NCAA Division-1 teams 2019-2020, Tucker Centre, (September 2020). In the initial years of the report, we primarily examined a sample of Power 5 FBS NCAA DivisionI athletic programs. Since then, due to demand and interest in our data, we have widened our scope of research to include Division-II and Division-III programs. In this report, we are widening the scope further to include examination of all NCAA Division-I women’s programs. The 2019-20 dataset included all head coaches of women’s teams (N = 3555) at 352 institutions of higher education in all geographic regions of the United States that were current members of 32 NCAA Division-I conferences. Women held 1501 of the 3555
    (42.3%) head coaching positions across 32 Division-I conferences. Women held 3948 of 7142 (55.3%) coaching staff positions across 32 Division-I conferences (See Table 2). Women held 382 of 818 (46.7%) Associate Head Coach positions. Women held 2647 of 5066 (52.3%) Assistant Coach positions. Women held 334 of 452 (73.9%) of the Graduate Assistant positions. As the position type increased in leadership role importance, visibility, and responsibility (Graduate Assistant to Assistant Coach, Assistant Coach to Associate Head Coach, Associate Head Coach to Head Coach), there was a decrease in the percentage of women in those positions (See Figure 1). Women held 580 of 782 (74.2%) Director of Operations positions. Women held 5 of 24 (20.8%) Director positions. Very few Graduate Assistants have kids (0.89% for women, 3.2% for men). This percentage drastically increases for Assistant Coaches, where almost one-quarter (24%) of male Assistant Coaches have kids, as opposed to 8.5% of their female Assistant Coach counterparts. This suggests that when women have or want kids (around the age of 30, Figure 2), they are likely leaving coaching more prominently than their male counterparts. This data tentatively identifies the “critical zone” for female coach retention at the Assistant Coach position, where women are on average 30 years old and have (or are planning to have) children. This establishes the importance of institutional practices to support young women and coach-parents and remove barriers for women to persist in coaching.
  • Women in the Olympic and Paralympic Games: An Analysis of Participation, Leadership, and Media Coverage, Women's Sport Foundation, (June 2017). This study is the fifth report in the series that follows the progress of women in the Olympic and Paralympic movement. Some of the major findings documented by this study included: 1. Countries continue to exclude women in their Olympic delegations; 2. The wealth gap continues to widen: in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, wealthy nations bring larger delegations and win more medals than less-financed nations; Women have finally accounted for 45% of the overall participants in the Olympic Games; 5. American women continue to dominate team sport competition in the Olympic Games, in large measure due to the impact of Title IX. However, other nations are also benefitting from Title IX with many of their female athletes attending American colleges, leading their teams to victory over the Americans; 6. Female athletes continue to have fewer participation opportunities, are relegated to shorter distances in certain sports, and face other structural obstacles to full equity in the Olympic and Paralympic Games; 7. The IOC requested that women be provided with at least 20% of the leadership opportunities in international sport organizations by 2005; however, women continue to be minimally represented in leadership positions in Olympic governance; 8. The USOC continues to make strides towards organizational gender equity, but it is still well below a balanced 50/50 split in leadership positions. This is particularly true in the NGBs where women are woefully underrepresented in leadership positions; 9. Media coverage of female athletes in the Olympic Games far exceeds that of female athletes in the Paralympic Games, who receive very little online media coverage by major U.S. news sites.
  • Women’s Sport: say yes to success, Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, (2014). This is the third major report from the WSFF examining the levels of commercial investment afforded to women’s sport in the UK. As well as updating these figures, we also include for the first time, the results of a media audit providing a detailed breakdown of the coverage different media types give to women’s sport. Commercial investment in sport and the media coverage it receives are inextricably linked—brands are looking for profile and media outlets need exciting competitions and events in packed sporting arenas to make for spectacular viewing and reporting. To improve one the other must also be addressed, hence this new combined analysis. This report reveals that despite some positive developments in a handful of sports, women’s sport in the UK still accounts for only 0.4% of the commercial investment going into all sports and for only 7% of total sports coverage in the media.
  • World at her feet, Burson, Cohn and Wolfe (BCW), (2019). BCW, one of the world’s largest full-service global communications agencies, invited players, former players, officials, administrators, commercial experts and fans to give their views on the current state of play and future of women’s football for this report. Through their own personal sporting stories and different experiences of the game, they offer insights into how the sport can seize opportunities to develop and overcome the obstacles that still stand in the way of progress and equality. Ten key findings from the report:
    • The professional game is becoming more competitive and more talent is coming through. More women than ever before are playing football—26 million in 180 countries, according to FIFA.
    • Women are making their way into football boardrooms and management, but it’s hardly a stampede. Less than 1% of presidents of national associations are female.
    • With the exception of the very top clubs, player salaries are often low, with 90% of female professional players say they might quit the sport for financial, family or career reasons.
    • Female referees earn less than men in top tournaments.
    • The game’s fan base is rapidly expanding with record attendances in several countries including Spain, Italy and Mexico, as well as rocketing ticket sales for the Champions League and World Cup, but gate receipts in national leagues still remain too low for most clubs to be self-sustainable.
    • Investment in infrastructure, pitch quality, academies and the grassroots game is still relatively weak
    • Big-brand sponsorship is on the increase. Sponsors believe that investing in a world that produces healthy, confident and empowered women is good for business.
    • Media coverage is increasing, but women’s sport continues to receive less than 10% of sports coverage overall.
    • Change is being driven by the top clubs. Olympique Lyonnais is seen as the role model, with its exceptional focus on professionalism and player development.
    • While attitudes are changing for the better, examples of sexism, conservatism and bias still persist.
  • A balancing act: women players in a new semi-Professional team sport league, Tracy Taylor, Hunter Fujak, Clare Hanlon and Donna O’Connor, European Sport Management Quarterly, (7 September 2020). Women commencing semi-professional careers in traditionally male team sports face unique opportunities and challenges. This study aimed to understand player's personal, organisational and societal barriers and supportive practices in their inaugural season as a semi-professional. In the first season, adoption of existing, traditionally male-based, organisational norms and practices acted to legitimise the new women’s competition, but also placed considerable stress on players. Most of the players had two or more employment commitments simultaneously, yet had limited job security. Policies and practices with the greatest positive impact for the women players included: child-care provision, development of an inclusive team and club culture and providing coaching, training and support specifically tailored to meet women’s needs.
  • A Holistic Perspective on Women’s Career Pathways in Athletics Administration, Allyson C. Hartzell and Marlene A. Dixon, Journal of Sport Management, Volume 33(2), pp.79-92, (2019). Though progress has been made in recent years, women continue to be underrepresented in sport leadership positions around the globe, particularly at the highest levels. This problem persists despite the known advantages to gender diversity in leadership positions. Multiple approaches from various levels of analysis (macro, meso and micro) have been used to study this phenomenon. However, there is a strong need for a more comprehensive model that would consider not only multiple levels of analysis, but also time and nonwork considerations. To that end, the authors review the existing literature in the area and then examine career and life course theories that would extend current conceptualizations of women’s experiences in sport leadership positions and the choices they make in the shaping of their career paths. This model enhances effective career development strategies that help women achieve the positions they strive for within sport, thereby enriching their own personal development and helping sport organizations achieve the multiple and positive benefits of a more diverse workforce.
  • Analysing gender dynamics in sport governance: A new regimes-based approach, Adriaanse J and Schofield T, Sport Management Review, Volume 16(4), (2013). This paper explores gender dynamics in sport governance with reference to boards of national sport organisations (NSOs) in Australia. This research investigates how gender works on sport boards, based upon the theory that a gender regime is characterised by four interwoven dimensions: production, power, emotional relations, and symbolic relations. An audit of 56 NSOs and in-depth interviews with board directors and chief executive officers was conducted. The data suggest that directors’ participation in sport governance was not uniform in terms of gender dynamics. Comparison of the proportion of women board members with the proportion of women who participate in each of the sports investigated suggests that women's representation remains low and men still hold the majority of senior and influential positions on boards. Although gender ratios on boards are important since they impact on power and control, there is a need to go beyond numbers to examine and understand the gender dynamics involved in the production of these ratios. Analysis of the data suggests that the following are significant in advancing gender equality in sport governance: (1) the adoption of quotas is an effective organisational strategy in achieving gender parity; (2) the occupation of women in power positions is fundamental to exercising power and authority in the decision-making of boards; (3) recognition and understanding of the organisational and governance dynamics in producing the board's gendered composition— rather than women themselves—is critical to the advancement of gender equality; (4) cooperative and collaborative behaviours that exist between men and women on a board are critical—hostility by men on boards towards women's presence and participation will undermine gender-equal governance. It is critical to emphasise that none of these structural dimensions on its own is sufficient to advance the practice of gender-equal governance. Rather, it is the combination of each of these dimensions that appears to be effective in achieving such a goal.
  • Does performance justify the under-representation of women coaches? Evidence from professional women’s soccer, Carlos Gomez-Gonzalez, Helmut Dietl, Cornel Nesseler, Sport Management Review, Volume 22(5), pp.640-651, (November 2019). In this paper, the authors empirically analyze the influence of the gender of the coach on team performance in women’s soccer leagues. Moreover, the authors examine the role of the initial experience of coaches (as professional players) as an attribute that converges with gender diversity and influences performance. The sample includes the top divisions in France, Germany and Norway from 2004 to 2017. The results from the regression model show that the gender of the coach is not a significant determinant of team performance (points per game). In addition, the initial experience of coaches does not alter the results. Therefore, managerial decisions of clubs with regard to the employment of coaches should not rely on gender.
  • Elite Women Coaches in Global Football: Executive Summary, De Haan, D., Normal, L. and Knoppers, A. presented at the Equality Summit on 5 July in Lyon, an initiative of Equal Playing Field, Athletes for Hope and Football Women International, (2019). Women football coaches exist in a system where they lack power, often do not feel supported or valued, and leads them to experience many negative occupational, social and psychological outcomes. The women who have navigated this system to the highest level of coaching are resilient, highly competent exemplars from which much can be learned. This research summary reveals the experiences of female football coaches through interviews and provides recommendations to improve the structures and experiences for women coaches globally.
  • Examination of Gender Equity and Female Participation in Sport, Joshua A. Senne, The Sport Journal, (26 February 2016). This paper presents an overview of five topics related to gender equity and sports. These topics include: (a) history of gender equity in sports and Title IX; (b) gender equity in sport governance; (c) gender equity issues in athletics; (d) gender equity, sports participation and Title IX; and (e) gender equity in coed sports. For each topic, the author presents an overview as well as a reason for selecting the topic. Further, the author presents information about the importance of each topic to gender equity in sports, plus any relevant social, ethical or legal concerns.
  • The Experience of Former Women Officials and the Impact on the Sporting Community, Jacob Tingle, Stacy Warner, Melanie Sartore-Baldwin, Sex Roles, Volume 71(1-2), pp.7-20, (2014). In an effort to explore the shortage of female sport officials, the authors examined the experience of eight former female basketball officials from five geographically diverse states in the US who voluntarily left the role. Specifically, the authors asked former female basketball officials to describe their workplace experiences. Utilising a phenomenological approach and workplace incivility framework, the results indicated that the felt social inequity for female officials detracted from the participants experiencing a sense of community in the workplace, which ultimately led to their discontinuation in the role. Results indicate four key factors that created this uncivil work environment. An examination of the data revealed four major themes. Specifically, the female basketball officials reported experiencing: lack of mutual respect from male counterparts; perceived inequity of policies; lack of role modeling and mentoring for, and from female officials; and experiencing more gendered abuse, than did their male counterparts. The combination of these four factors exacerbated the female officials’ inability to connect to the officiating community and led to their withdrawal from the role. The results further indicate that women officials likely threatened the hegemonic characteristics of a sport setting. Although females have made great strides in terms of sport participation, the practical implications of this research suggest that understanding females in workplace roles, such as officiating, is vital if social equity is to be achieved in the sporting community.
  • Gender and leadership positions in recreational hockey clubs, Litchfield C, Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, (20 May 2014). Women are not traditionally associated with leadership roles in sport and the culture of sport is often a space where males are in positions of power. This paper explores the experiences of women from two mixed-gendered and one female-only recreational level hockey clubs in Melbourne. The author examines the gendered leadership, principally male dominant, at these hockey clubs and uses Connell's theory of gender relations to identify the differences in the level of involvement of women in leadership roles between mixed-gendered and single-gendered hockey clubs.
  • Gender diversity in sport leadership: an investigation of United States of America National Governing Bodies of Sport, Lindsey Gaston, Milly Blundell and Tom Fletcher, Managing Sport and Leisure, (13 February 2020). The results of this study indicate that females are largely under-represented in leadership roles within national governing bodies (NGBs). Findings also indicate a positive correlation between female representation in the leadership structure of NGBs, and the ability of the NGB to achieve female membership benchmarks, thus supportive of Critical Mass Theory. The implications of the study support both an ethical case for female representation and also highlights a clear business performance case for greater gender diversity in the senior roles of leadership within NGBs in the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
  • Gender dynamics on boards of National Sport Organisations in Australia [thesis], Johanna A. Adriaanse, University of Sydney, (2012). While sport participation rates for women have grown exponentially, data on the Sydney Scoreboard indicate that women remain markedly underrepresented on sport boards globally including in Australia. A significant body of research has emerged to explain women’s under-representation in sport governance. The majority of studies have investigated the gender distribution of the board’s composition and related issues such as factors that inhibit women’s participation in sport governance. Few studies have examined the underlying gender dynamics on sport boards once women have gained a seat at the boardroom table, yet this line of investigation may disclose important reasons for the lack of gender equality on sport boards. The aim of the present study was to examine how gender works on boards of national sport organisations in Australia.
  • Gendered Leadership Expectations in Sport: Constructing Differences in Coaches, Vicki D. Schull and Lisa A. Kihl, Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal, Volume 27(1), pp.1-11, (2019). The purpose of this study is to examine the gendered nature of sport leadership by analysing female college athletes’ perceptions of leadership associated with sport coaching. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 23 female college athletes participating in NCAA Division I team sports to understand their perceptions of leadership associated with coaching and to examine the gendered nature of their leadership constructions. Findings indicated two gendered leadership attributes were associated with coaching (i.e. human capital and empathy) in the context of women’s college sport. While both men and women were cited as ideal leaders based on their human capital and ability to express empathy, these leadership attributes were evaluated and applied differently to male and female coaches. The gendered nature of human capital and empathy contributed to the further privileging of men and certain forms of dominant masculinities over women and forms of femininities within notions of sport leadership and coaching. This study contributes to the gender and sport literature and offers practical implications focused on individual and interpersonal strategies.
  • Going on a ‘witch hunt’: investigating the lived experiences of women working in male team sports in regional Australia, Gabriella Hotham, Chelsea Litchfield and Jaquelyn Osborne, Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, (4 October 2019). Male dominated team sports potentially provide many opportunities for women, through both voluntary and paid employment. However, very few studies focus on the experiences of women at a regional (or rural) level in sport. By examining the experiences of women working with male team sports at this level, insight into why women choose to be involved within male dominated sporting spaces can be explored, including the benefits and the barriers faced within these spaces. Such information is pertinent to the wider discussions relating to women in sport in Australia. Therefore, the aim of this research was to study the lived experiences of female coaches, trainers, strappers, umpires, exercise scientists and administrators involved in regional male team sports in NSW.
  • The impact of gender quotas on gender equality in sport governance, Adriaanse J, and Schofield T, Journal of Sport Management, Volume 28, (2014). A common intervention to address women’s underrepresentation in governance has been the introduction of gender quotas. This study examined the impact of gender quotas on gender equality in governance among boards of national sport organisations (NSOs) in Australia. The findings suggest that a quota of a minimum of three women was the first condition to advance gender equity. However, it needed to operate in conjunction with other gender dynamics to effectively move toward equal participation by men and women in board decision making. Supporting principles such as: including women in influential board positions; common emotional relationships between men and women directors; and directors’ adoption of gender equity as an organisational value; were critical to the success of gender quotas.
  • Juggling Balls and Roles, Working Mother-Coaches in Youth Sport: Beyond the Dualistic Worker-Mother Identity, Sarah I. Leberman and Nicole M. LaVoi, Journal of Sport Management, Volume 25(5), pp.474-488, (2011). Despite the ubiquitous presence of mothers in sport contexts, mothers’ voices are often absent in the sport literature, particularly at the youth sport level. A phenomenological approach was used to explore the experiences of working mother volunteer youth sport coaches. Findings suggest that notions of being a good mother and reasons for coaching are very similar, including spending time together, developing life skills and role modeling. Participants negotiated multiple roles using cognitive tools, such as reframing and separation of roles. The reciprocal benefits of motherhood, working and coaching for themselves and others were highlighted.
  • Preparing female sport management students for leadership roles in sport, Leberman S and Shaw S, Ako Aotearoa, National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence, NZ, (2012). Women are consistently underrepresented at the higher management levels in New Zealand sports organisations as is the case internationally. This research was aimed at gaining a better understanding of the educational experiences of recent female sport management and physical education graduates, and the career pathways of female CEOs in the New Zealand sport sector. The findings suggested that the most important skills learnt while studying for a degree were planning and organising, independent learning, and time management skills. However, the most important skills for women in CEO positions were relationship building, communication and interpersonal skills. This suggests a disconnect between preparation for the sector and requirements once in the sector. The CEOs reported that relationship building, stakeholder management, self-awareness and sense of judgement were most important to being successful in the sports industry. Mentors were considered to be important by both groups and ‘Old Boys‘ networks were considered by most graduate and CEO respondents to still be a problem for women.
  • Sexism in Professional Sports: How Women Managers Experience and Survive Sport Organizational Culture, Lauren C. Hindman and Nefertiti A. Walker, Journal of Sport Management, Volume 34(1), pp.64-76, (2020). Women remain the minority in sport organisations, particularly in leadership roles, and prior work has suggested that sexism may be to blame. This study examines women’s experiences of both overt and subtle sexism in the sport industry as well as the impact such experiences have on their careers. Based on interviews and journal entries from women managers working in a men’s professional sports league, the findings suggest that the culture of sport organisations perpetuates sexism, including the diminishment and objectification of women. Sexism occurs in women’s everyday interactions with their supervisors and coworkers, as well as others that they interact with as part of their jobs. Such experiences result in professional and emotional consequences, which women navigate by employing tactics that enable their survival in the sport industry.
  • “She is the Best Female Coach”: Female Swimming Coaches’ Experiences of Sexism, Jessica L. Siegele, Robin Hardin, Elizabeth A. Taylor, et.al., Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, Volume 13(1), pp.93-118, (2020). Numerous barriers have been identified through previous research on the factors that inhibit upward career mobility for female coaches. Semi-structured interviews were used to examine the career experiences of 21 current or former female swimming coaches at the NCAA Division I level. The theme of sexism in coaching was pervasive and identified in five different categories: (a) misidentification, (b) differential treatment, (c) isolation, (d) tokenism, and (e) motherhood. The sexism that female coaches experience hinders upward career mobility which can lead to career dissatisfaction and early exits from the field, contributing to the underrepresentation of women in the profession.
  • Tall Poppies: Bullying behaviors faced by Australian high-performance school-age athletes, O’Neill M, Calder A and Allen B, Journal of School Violence, Volume 13(2), (2014). Tall poppies are successful individuals bullied by those who are less successful in order to 'normalise' them. Nineteen current or previous national or international high-performance school-age athletes were interviewed (12 females and seven males). Findings indicated all 12 females were bullied at school and this had a detrimental impact on their school life and wellbeing. In contrast, no male athletes reported being bullied. The authors recommend that parents and teachers should be aware of tall poppy syndrome behaviours, and schools should promote an anti-bullying culture that includes resilience training for talented individuals.
  • Towards a process for advancing women in coaching through mentorship, Jenessa Banwell, Ashley Stirling, Gretchen Kerr, International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, (15 October 2019). This study used a multi-methods methodology to explore female coaches’ experiences in, and outcomes of, a female coach mentorship program. Survey data and individual in-depth semi-structured interviews with participating mentor (n = 7) and mentee coaches (n = 8) from the program were conducted. Survey data were analyzed descriptively and the interview data were analysed using an inductive thematic analysis. Findings revealed two primary forms of mentoring support provided through the mentorship program that facilitated personal and professional outcomes for participating mentor and mentee coaches, as well as various quality attributes of the mentorship process. Based upon these findings, a mentorship model for advancing women in coaching is proposed.
  • Underrepresentation of women in sport leadership: A review of research, Burton L, Sport Management Review, Volume 18(2), (2015). Despite increased participation opportunities for girls and women in sport, they are underrepresented in leadership positions at all levels of sport. The objective of this review is to provide a multilevel examination of available scholarship that contributes to understanding why there are so few women in leadership positions within sport. This review looked at existing research covering the institutionalised practices of gender in sport; stereotyping of leaders; issues of discrimination and gendered organisational cultures, and; women's expectations in leadership positions and occupational turnover. Gender as an organising principle in sport needs to be considered along with other forms of identity, such as race, sexual orientation, class and ability.
  • ‘Why am I putting myself through this?’ Women football coaches’ experiences of the Football Association's coach education process, Lewis C, Roberts S and Andrews H, Sport, Education and Society, (30 November 2015). Despite an increase in the provision of coach education, most of the research has avoided female coach populations. In this study, ten women football (soccer) coaches were interviewed. Analysis of the interviews revealed high levels of gender discrimination and inappropriate cultural practice. The women's experiences are discussed relative to notions of social acceptance, symbolic language and power. The women coaches provided a number of recommendations for the provision of future coach education.
  • Women and leadership: advancing gender equity policies in sport leadership through sport governance, Popi Sotiriadou and Donna de Haan, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, (18 March 2019). This paper uses a multilevel framework to deconstruct the role board members play in advancing gender equity policies in leadership positions in sport governance. Data were collected using in-depth interviews with triathlon board members of the International Federation and two national federations. The results show that within the multilevel framework, at the individual (micro) level, male equity champions pave the way for both challenging existing stereotypes at an organisational level (meso) within the boards, and at the sport level (macro) through the introduction and implementation of strategies and policies in the organisations studied and constitutional changes that encourage women to engage in leadership roles. These strategies and policies display the power of equity champions of change and their willingness and ability to create a gender-equitable governance culture. Equity champions of change enable women to feel valued in leadership roles, and further encourage and promote the acceptance of women in the governance of sport organisations.
  • Women and Leadership Development in Australian Sport Organizations, Marissa Banu-Lawrence, Stephen Frawley, and Larena Hoeber, Journal of Sport Management, (2020). Understanding leadership development processes is important for the sport industry, in which organisations are becoming increasingly professional and commercially focused. Despite the increased attention on gender diversity and leadership development within the sport industry to date, the scope and application of organizational gender and leadership development theory within an Australian sport context has been limited. As such, the purpose of this study was to explore the leadership development practices adopted by key stakeholders of the Australian sports industry, with the intention to uncover how they impact the role of women in different organisations. Specifically, the research investigated the practices of three organisations that have a major stake in Australian professional sport.
  • Women on boards of directors in Australian national sporting organisations (NSOs): is gender a factor? [thesis] Anne Emms, University of Wollongong, (2014). This study concludes that, while new institutional ideas have been introduced to change board structure and practice, such as non-member elected board appointees who are recruited for their corporate governance expertise, the gender bias that has shaped historical practice remains.
  • ALL IN: Towards gender balance in sport. European Union (EU) and Council of Europe (COE) joint project, (1 March 2018-31 October 2019). Its aim is to provide support to public authorities and sport organisations when designing and implementing policies and programs addressing gender inequalities in sport and when adopting a gender mainstreaming strategy.
  • Change Our Game Recruitment and Retention Guidelines for Women in Sport and RecreationState of Victoria, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, (April 2019). Provides simple and practical guidance and strategies to ensure women and girls have rewarding experiences in these roles, making them more likely to stay on at the club. These guidelines focus on the following areas: recruiting women to join your committee; women and girls as leaders outside the committee; and making leadership at your club a rewarding experience for women and girls.
  • The Encyclopedia of Women & Leadership in Twentieth-Century AustraliaAustralian Research Council, Linkage Project, (2014). Naming Australia's 20th-century leading women performers in sport is a difficult task because there are so many of note. Browse the list of names in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF) and one can see a roll call of household names, women who are not just legends of world sport but important to Australia's sense of itself as a sporting nation. This ‘encyclopaedia’ provides a profile on women who have been elite athletes, administrators, coaches, and role models to generations of Australian women.
  • Female Coach Mentorship programCanadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity and the Coaching Association of Canada, (2017). The Female Coach Mentorship Model is the outcome of a two-year pilot project aimed at developing a sustainable model of mentorship for female coaches who are interested in enhancing their skill set and optimising their potential. The project resulted in the development of three guides: a mentee guide, a mentor guide and a sport administrator guide.
  • Gender Equity Self-Assessment Tool for Community Sport Providers, Canadian Women & Sport, (March 2020). This self–assessment tool is designed for use by community sport and physical activity providers (municipal recreation departments, boys and girls clubs, Ys, etc.) to assess whether their programs, services and facilities meet an acceptable standard of gender equity. Results will help organisations actively engage women and girls as participants and leaders.
  • Gender Equity Toolkit: Gender equity in the organising of Flying Disc Sports tournaments. A Tournament Directors Toolkit, World Flying Disc Federation, Women in Sport Commission, (2020). This Tournament Directors Toolkit (TDT) provides tournament organising committees with information about gender equity, and some ideas/strategies to consider when stage events that are more gender-equitable. This TDT does not attempt to cover in detail every aspect of gender equity as this is a complicated topic and around the world, there is no single approach. Local customs, culture, events and business practices must be considered. This document is a working document, which may be updated over time
  • How to Apply A Gender LENS to Decision Making, Canadian Women & Sport, (May 2020). When you make decisions using a gender lens, you help to create the conditions for the inclusion of girls and women. Greater inclusion makes sport better for ALL involved. Put simply, using a gender lens means accounting for the different ways that different genders might experience the results of your decision.
  • How to make an impact on gender equality in sport: All you need to knowEuropean Union and the Council of Europe, (September 2019).  This toolkit helps sports organisations and administrators to:
    • understand the extent of gender inequalities and differences in the sports world
    • understand the prevalence of gender-based violence and the added-value of moving towards gender equality in this area
    • design, implement, monitor and evaluate an action plan to achieve gender equality; understand what a gender mainstreaming strategy is
    • implement a gender mainstreaming approach in sport policies, program, actions and in sporting organisations (when devising a human-resources policy, organising sports events, developing a communication strategy, allocating funds, renovating a sport facility, etc.).
  • The Leading Edge: Good practices for creating gender-equitable boards in sportCanadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity, (2018). This resource provides sport leaders with information and tips to enhance good practices or dial up efforts to support gender-equitable boards. It includes information on making the case for gender-equitable boards; intentional leadership; setting clear objectives and evaluating progress; reviewing by-laws, processes and procedures; creating an inviting culture; proactively recruiting women; and providing mentoring and training opportunities.

Licencing restrictions apply to some resources listed below.

Public All Clearinghouse members 'Australian' members only
'High Performance' members only Restricted access Various restrictions
Please see Clearinghouse membership categories for further information.

  • Women in Sport - breaking the mould, Giles Thompson, CEO, Racing Victoria, Mandy Spear, COO, Titanium Security Arena, Laura Johnston, General Manager Performance & Culture, Swimming Australia, Our Sporting Future Conference (16 November 2017)
  • Sport and gender equality, Kate Jenkins, Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Our Sporting Future Conference (16 November 2017)
  • Linking with local Government, Amanda Spalding, Sport and Recreation NSW, Sports Talks (20 May 2013)
  • Are You On Board Campaign, VicSport (2015). While evidence shows that diversity is good for business, only 33 percent of all board positions available in Victorian State Sport Associations are currently held by women (as at December 2013).
  • It Makes Sense – Gender Diversity SA Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing, YouTube, (2016). The State Sporting Organisations in South Australia for Surf Life Saving, Hockey, Australian Football, Golf and Yachting share their sports journey in a series of videos. They highlight the challenges and the successes as they move towards truly reflecting the gender diversity of the South Australian community.
  • Play and Win. Women Win have put together a video that connects sport and empowerment as a means for women and girls to overcome gender-based violence.
  • Play Fair, Fast and Female, Canada, (2015). This documentary film questions the assumption that women’s fight for full rights in the world of sports is over. The film explores five decades of activism and legal challenges that women fought to ensure they would have equal access and rights to compete in sports on elite and community levels.
  • VicSport ‘Are You On Board’- Why have a diverse committee? VicSport, YouTube, (2015). The 2015 VicSport Are You On Board campaign kicks off with a video around the importance of having diversity among committee members in grassroots sport, with particular focus on including females on committees and boards.
  • Why do women get paid less in prize money? BBC News, (20 June 2017). Olympic cycling champion Joanna Rowsell Shand looks at why there is still a gap in the amount men and women receive in prize money.
  • Women Win: digital storytelling project. Women Win is committed to not just telling stories of girls' sport achievement and the impact those stories have, but helping build the skill and leadership of girls to tell their own story. A collection of videos is available to listen to and view.

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