Latest News

Back to Latest News back


ESSA looks to achieve gender equality in high performance sport

ESSA looks to achieve gender equality in high performance sport
November 8, 2023

Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) has today highlighted that while gender equality progress in Australian sport is evident on the field, a shortage of women in high performance coaching roles emphasises the urgent need for a more inclusive game plan.

Pointing out that Australia's sports landscape lacks gender diversity and inclusivity, ESSA paints a bleak outlook for the lead-up to the 2032 Olympic Games without urgent support, recognition and career progression, urging sports entities to embrace gender diversity in leadership, calling for expanded opportunities for female students in sports science, exercise physiology, and high-performance fields to address the balance demanded by women's sports.

As a female high performance practitioner with A-League club Perth Glory, Carmen Colomer is aware that she is among the minority in Australia, especially one working for a men’s elite sporting team.

Colomer explains “with over a decade of experience in professional men’s sports, my journey began as a sports scientist and has evolved to my current role as the Head of Performance.

“Throughout my career I have witnessed the under representation of women in sports, leading to a lack of visible role models for aspiring female Accredited Exercise Physiologists.

“During my pregnancy and postpartum journey, I encountered a scarcity of women in my position who I could look up to and seek guidance from.

“The reality is that there are very few, if any, women in similar roles (with women) deterred by the prospect of working in high performance sport because current environments don’t foster a variety of coaching styles with diverse gender identities. There are also concerns like I faced that working in sports means sacrificing their desire to have a family with concerns when they take maternity leave about professional relevance and replaceability.” 

Colomer notes that she is fortunate to work for an organisation that challenged the ‘status quo’ and recognised the benefit of coach and leader gender diversity.

Workforce data
ESSA’s current workforce data by ESSA reveals that only 24% of Accredited Sports Scientists and high performance managers are women.

ESSA also points to The International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching 2023 report ‘The under representation of women coaches in high-performance sport’, which states that despite the identified decline of women coach numbers three decades ago, very little has changed.

The review states that over 30 years ago, female coach numbers and proportions were declining relative to the growing participation of female athletes.

Yet little has changed in proportional representation of women in high performance sport. In fact, the International Olympic Committee recently found the proportion of women coaches at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics had only increased by 2% from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games to 13% of all coaches.

In football, the statistics are worse; it has been reported that only 7% of FIFA coaches are women. This contrasts with gains in diversity and equality made in most other professions over the past two decades.

Related Articles

28th October 2023 - Community sports club volunteers key to driving female participation

22nd August 2023 - Rugby Australia partners with World Rugby to appoint Women’s High-Performance Manager

21st August 2023 - Applications open for Australian Sports Commission’s Women Leaders in Sport initiative

6th July 2023 - AIS High Performance Women Coaching Forum collects insights on parental leave and recruitment

21st April 2023 - Swim coaches welcome $3.9 million funding boost for women in coaching

14th January 2023 - ESSA 2023 Forum to be held on the Sunshine Coast

11th November 2022 - ESSA releases new treatment guidelines for people recovering from COVID

16th June 2022 - ESSA spotlights need for men to check their health

23rd May 2022 - ESSA encourages exercising for the right reasons this Exercise Right Week

13th April 2022 - ESSA challenges people to find ways to move during this Easter break

19th March 2022 - ESSA sets out priorities for 2022 Federal Election

17th March 2022 - AIS program addresses under-representation of women in coaching and executive roles

4th March 2022 - ESSA spotlights a need to reshape the way Australians view obesity

14th February 2022 - ESSA spotlights benefits of exercising with your partner this Valentine’s day

2nd February 2022 - ESSA highlights the benefits for children in exercising outside of school activities

31st January 2022 - AIS talent program opens for women coaches and sport executives

27th January 2022 - ESSA highlights caution required when returning to exercise post COVID infection

18th November 2021 - ‘Exercise as medicine’ programs get backing from Exercise and Sports Science Australia

9th September 2021 - AIS programs aim to elevate women coaches in Australian high performance sport

5th November 2019 - Exercise and Sports Science Australia calls for more Government funding to boost physical activity

7th April 2018 - Exercise and Sports Science Australia flags importance of expert advice on World Health Day

21st November 2017 - YMCA promotes elite women coaches at South Australian Aquatic and Leisure Centre

14th June 2016 - Exercise & Sports Science Australia urges political parties to focus on health

Support our industry news service
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

As an independent publisher, we need reader support for our industry news gathering so ask that - if you don't already do so - you back us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine and/or our online news.

Click here to view our subscription options.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

Technogym Australia

Technogym is the leading company in the Wellness and Fitness field all over the world. With 2,200 employees, 14 branches in Europe, U.S., South America, Asia  and Australia, Technogym exports its…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness



Welcome to AAC – makers of the world’s best wristbands, lanyards, tickets, tokens and full-service print solutions. We are Australia’s premier global manufacturer and supplier of…

read more

Access / Marketing / Safety / Ticketing


Pico Play

Pico Play is a global leader in the planning, design, development and construction of world-class themed attractions and entertainment that deliver extraordinary and memorable experiences to millions…

read more

Attractions / Consultants / Design / Recreation / Tourism


Aussie Strength

We are Aussie Strength. The ultimate supplier for Commercial Gym Equipment that's built to deliver in the toughest environments. From USA-Built hardcore weight training equipment from Arsenal…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness



PathMinder Pty Ltd have partnered with AllUser Industries srl to bring Europe’s most advanced high security portals to the Australian and New Zealand markets. AllUser Industries started to…

read more

Access / Fitness / Recreation / Security


iDwala Pty Ltd

iDwala is the Community Sports Facility Specialist offering the highest quality designs and technical expertise to Councils, Schools and Sporting Clubs looking to create sporting…

read more

Consultants / Design / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces


Links Modular Solutions

Links Modular Solutions are a leading provider of high-quality, innovative software solutions for leisure facilities. Our software suite includes modules such as POS, Classes, Members, Facility…

read more

Access / Billing / Finance / Fitness / Technology


Altitude Training Systems

ATS are global leaders in altitude training and research. From mask systems and inflatable tents to simulated altitude facilities, we help all athletes gain the competitive edge. Our…

read more

Fitness / Sport / Technology


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business