‘Women in sport face discrimination’

Man and women running


Only 46% of women in the sports industry say there is fair and equal treatment of men and women in their industry, compared to 72% of men, according to a new survey.

Women in Sport’s report, ‘Beyond 30% – Workplace Culture in Sport’, surveyed 1,152 women and men working in sport and conducted 42 in-depth interviews. It revealed that some women working in sport feel less valued, actively experience gender discrimination, believe they are paid less for doing the same role as men, face more challenges to progress and feel unfairly judged.

The report shows 40% of women feel their gender has negatively influenced how they are valued at work, compared to 9% of men; 38% of women have experienced gender discrimination, compared to 21% of men; and 30% of women say they have experienced inappropriate behaviour from the opposite sex, compared to 11% of men.

Ruth Holdaway, CEO of Women in Sport, said: “I recognise that the sport sector is committed to stamping out gender discrimination, but our report has highlighted that where negative behaviours exist deep within the workplace culture they often go unseen and therefore do not get addressed. By bringing transparency to the issue we can now work with sector leaders to change it.

“We led this research to provide the sport sector with in-depth understanding of the issues that affect women in the sport workplace. Now we want to work with sports organisations to build a more inclusive workplace culture, where both women and men can reach their full potential.”

Over the past seven years, Women in Sport has monitored the number of women in Board and Senior leadership roles in the National Governing Bodies of England and Wales, via their annual Beyond 30% audit. However, it says that, in order to nurture a strong pipeline of future female leaders and bring about sustainable change, the culture in sports organisations needed to be examined.

The report says an emphasis on sporting competence as a measure of professional value, limits opportunities for capable women with the relevant skills, within the sector. In addition to culture change from the grassroots up, the report says the issue is not about men versus women, but progress, opportunity and a better working environment for all. It says: “Men as well as women need to be part of the solution with positive engagement from the top and clear sight of the benefits to all.”

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