International Women’s Day sparks debate about women’s role in sport
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International Women’s Day sparks debate about women’s role in sport

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A flurry of events around International Women’s Day (8 March) have pressed the message that more still needs to be done to even up the gender imbalance in sport.

Yesterday, Women in Sport ambassador, Kate Hardcastle, hosted an awareness raising event at the Bradford Bulls’ match against Hunslet Hawks.

The event celebrated the achievements of women who have forged careers at senior levels of sport, but acknowledged there is still a long way to go: women are still underrepresented on the boards of England’s national governing bodies of sport.

Women in Sport research shows that almost half of NGBs have less than 25 per cent of women on their board and three still have no female board members.

Last Friday (6 March), Women in Sport’s CEO, Ruth Holdaway also spoke at a FIFA-led event about the future of women’s football and women in sport governance.

“Women have a vital role to play in the management, leadership and delivery of sport and we will continue to champion the right of all women to work and provide a valuable contribution to the sector,” says Holdaway. “International’s Women’s Day is a great opportunity to reflect on the progress made in women’s sport and to highlight the need for continued focus.”

Gender inequality in sports governance is one of the main issues which Women in Sport will be tackling going forward and it will soon be launching a three year programme of activity to address this.

This same subject was also the subject at an event hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat last week. Speakers identified some of the current barriers to women getting the top jobs in sports administration. Confidence is one issue, because women often focus on what they can’t do on a job description, whereas men focus on what they can.

A second point was that organisations need to spread the net wider in sourcing applicants. For example, Manchester City recently used specialist recruiters to make sure their advert, for a marketing executive, attracted applications from both sexes.

Encouragingly, there have been some moves towards giving women’s sport an equal billing with men’s. At the European Hockey Championships in London, England Hockey are closing the event with the women’s final, instead of the men’s.

Also the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race will feature the women’s race on the same day as the men’s race from this year.

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A flurry of events around International Women’s Day (8 March) have pressed the message that more still needs to be done to even up the gender imbalance in sport.
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