This is a great article about the cost of NOT hiring women coaches. Great thoughts in this one!
This fall at the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport we focused our fall Distinguished Lecture on the topic of gender and sport leadership. Specifically we invited two renown sport management scholars, Dr. Janet Fink (UMass Amherst) and Dr. Sally Shaw (U of Otago, New Zealand) to flush out why the numbers of women sport leaders is declining in the US, and why women in other countries have failed to ascend to positions of power. Their insights are compelling and thought provoking.
Barriers to entry for Women & Girls in sport: Part II
In my previous blog I gave an overview of the different socio-economic and cultural barriers to entry for women & girls in sport. In this blog I will list various ideas and suggestions that can be (and have been) implemented in several sports organizations, clubs and schools across different continents that may help to increase the participation of girls in sports in your community.
- Participation starts with awareness of sports in communities. Are girls aware of the sports programmes? Organize “come and try” weekends or evenings where girls can come to try out the programmes and meet the coaches.
- Education of parents. By involving families, community leaders, and boys and men in gender education, changes to gender norms can benefit men and women alike. Organise mother and daughter and/or father and daughter sessions to help create a familial culture of support for sport, and to inform parents what benefits there are for girls in sport. Encourage the approval and support of parents.
- Make sure all girls, regardless of skills or experience, get the chance to be an active part of activities and teams, and that they get regular game time. This will serve as an incentive to participate and attend training sessions regularly.
- Ensure there are female role models in your facility, club or organization, both in terms of women staff, coaches, organisers and managers, and in terms of prominent publicity and images of sporting women and girls.
- Focus on girls-only sports codes in developing countries like Netball, aerobics and dance: Make the girls feel special about “their” sport and forming part of their unique and trusted circle of friends/team mates.
- Provide a range of activities and services, in addition to sport, to attract and retain more girls. Introduce non-traditional sports and physical activities (dance such as hip hop or modern) to encourage greater participation in programmes by girls.
- Encourage girls through coaching sessions and competitions, by using incentives like certificates, T-shirts, posters and group photos, for everyone, not just those who perform best in the activity. Have quirky awards for teams and individuals.
Worldwide, girls and women are less likely than boys and men to participate in sport, and the sport arena is largely dominated by males. One should not assume, however, that this is because girls and women do not want to take part. Lack of resources, inadequate facilities, poverty, domestic demands, safety concerns, low self-esteem, disability, lack of transportation and few opportunities for physical education and skills development frequently prevent women’s participation in physical activity and sport. As well, socio-cultural norms and constraints preventing girls and women from being physically active, leaving home unaccompanied, or being seen by men outside their family, are additional barriers preventing girls and women from becoming involved in sport and physical activity (righttoplay.com)
These are only some of the issues contributing to the imbalance in female/male representation not only in sports
participation and professional sports careers, but also in jobs such as sports marketing, sports management and administration, sports physiotherapy, sports psychology, sport for development NGOs, community sports organizations and sports clubs. These issues should be addressed so that women and girls will be encouraged to take part in physical activity; the community as a whole must be fully informed and educated about the opportunities, advantages and risks associated with female participation in sport.
Why is it so important for girls to play sport? In privileged communities or wealthy areas there is a vast selection of activities for girls to participate in such as music, singing, dance, drama, art and reading. There are so many options available today that one is spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing recreational activities (and one is very blessed indeed to be in a position to make those choices!). In contrast, there are very limited resources in developing countries and poor areas, and sport remains the activity that girls can participate in without having many resources, equipment or training. But regardless of how many resources or recreational activities are accessible, sport has many benefits for girls and plays an important role in the socialization process of children.
We face various challenges with girls’ participation in developing countries: the struggle with cultural interpretation based on patriarchal beliefs; stigmatization and discrimination against female athletes; and too much emphasis being placed on maintaining an ideal body weight rather than girls’ physical, mental and emotional well-being. But despite these challenges, the benefits of sport for girls are undeniable.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012 is National Girls and Women in Sports Day. At UNC Greensboro, we have several events planned throughout the week to celebrate this special occasion including a full day of activities with 180 Girls Scouts on Saturday, February 4, 2012.
While the week is ahead is always an exciting time for all of the girls and women involved in sport and physical activity, I often take time to reflect on the pre-Title IX women who helped us get to where we are today. However, this year, I began thinking about the youngest generation of female athletes and movers and began to wonder how their sport and movement experiences will be shaped and to what extent will Title IX linger in the background?
Will these girls still have to advocate for field space and equitable practice time in 10 years? Will they have to still justify a need for new uniforms or for uniforms that fit correctly? I certainly hope not.
In my previous blog entry about Women Coaches and Girls’ participation in developing countries, I focused on some factors that contribute to a very small percentage of woman coaches and girls’ participation in Africa. There is no doubt that women and girls in developing countries are marginalized not only in sport, but in all aspects of life, and from a policy making level there is incredible headway to be made.
But taking all these factors, challenges and hardships into account, one should never underestimate the power of a woman. History has taught us that women all over the world, across different age groups, cultures, religions and backgrounds, can be extremely resilient to difficult circumstances. Women have endured pain in wars and fought for human rights. During both the World Wars, women were called on to do work and to take on roles that were outside their traditional gender expectations – they played a vital role in fighting for their countries and protecting their men and children. The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain and the United States is another great example of how women achieved victory against all odds.
Worldwide, women have suffered and endured pain and loss, but the stories of triumph and victory are the ones that inspire us to greater heights. Women look at each others’ stories and say, “If she can do it, then I can also do it”. And this naturally applies to sport as well. There is the inspiring story of Wilma Rudolph.