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International survey shows male dominance in fitness management

International survey shows male dominance in fitness management
July 25, 2022

An international survey of fitness industry managers and business owners has revealed significant male dominance with 70% of men surveyed being self-employed gym owners by comparison with 29% of women.

The global online survey, conducted by German-based software company Sport Alliance and the Women in Fitness Association (WIFA) showed a large percentage difference between women and men in leadership roles, with 47% of men employed by companies in the fitness industry being in a leadership role while for women, that number is 11% less.

Conducted between September 2021 and March 2022, the survey involved 679 people working in the fitness industry (primarily in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States and United Kingdom).

Acknowledging that the data is indicative rather than being fully representative of the industry, Maike Kumstel, International Business Developer at Sport Alliance feels the results provide interesting insights into the structures of the industry.

Kumstel noted "these data show the trend that men are more likely to be in leadership roles in businesses than women.

“Among the self-employed, most women are trainers rather than running their own businesses."

The survey found major obstacles impeding women in reaching their career goals, with respondents  citing feeling underestimated and not respected and having low chances of getting promoted. Women also highlighted the fact that it is hard to combine family and work as a major obstacle.

For women who are in leadership positions, 27% say their path to becoming a leader was more difficult because of their gender. By contrast, among men, only 7% cite this as a reason.

Female leaders feel that gender imbalance in the workplace results in lower opportunities for promotion, gender discrimination and lower salaries for women.

Artur Jagiello, Head of Marketing & Communications at Sport Alliance, noted "as non-executives, men and women face similar obstacles in their career paths. But as you climb the career ladder, the gender gap becomes more pronounced, resulting in disadvantages for women. Being a boss in 2022 is unfortunately still a male domain.”

Men have different perceptions
When asked about gender bias in their company, 82% of men responded that there was none, while for women, the figure is 64%.

In addition, 19% of women said they could not say for sure if there was a gender bias (for men, it was 7%).

Regarding whether an even gender distribution in leadership positions in their workplace is important to them, 59% of women responded that it is. By comparison, only 35% of men held the same opinion.

Jagiello added "we want to bring attention to this issue.

"Only when there is awareness of the current situation, something can be changed. Some companies have already initiated strategies and actions to address the issue, knowing that something needs to be done to improve equality in the fitness industry. However, as in many other industries, there is still a long way to go."

About the author

Karen Sweaney

Co-founder and Editor, Australasian Leisure Management

Artist, geoscientist and specialist writer on the leisure industry, Karen Sweaney is Editor and co-founder of Australasian Leisure Management.

Based in Sydney, Australia, her specific areas of interest include the arts, entertainment, the environment, fitness, tourism and wellness.

She has degrees in Fine Arts from the University of Sydney and Geological Oceanography from UNSW.

Read more from this author

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