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Leadership programs launched to challenge gender diversity in Australian sport

Leadership programs launched to challenge gender diversity in Australian sport
March 7, 2019

Sport Australia Chief Executive Kate Palmer and Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Chief Executive Peter Conde have challenged 33 women embarking on ground-breaking leadership programs to use the experience to help drive greater diversity in Australian sport.

Sport Australia and the AIS have announced successful applicants for two new Talent Programs aimed at addressing the under-representation of female sport executives and high-performance coaches in Australian sport. The programs are funded in partnership with the Office for Women.

17 coaches and 16 executives have been selected from more than 250 applicants to participate in the intensive leadership development programs that will run concurrently in 2019.

Advising that advances continue to be made for elite female athletes in Australia, including some sports making a commitment last month to take steps towards pay equity, Palmer emphasisied the lack of opportunity for women in other areas of sport, particularly executive and coaching positions,

Saying this situation was "intolerable", Palmer advised "despite the recent appointment of female CEOs in sports such as basketball, equestrian and water polo, of the 63 sports we fund, only 15 - less than a quarter - have female CEOs.

“Sport Australia will continue to advocate for progress. We will not turn a blind eye to what is an unacceptable and systemic imbalance.

“These new Talent Programs have been designed to shift mindsets and behaviours in Australian sport. We want participants in these programs to be part of that transformation. These programs will focus on building the personal skills of participants so they can maximise their professional development and drive change as influential leaders in sport.

“The Executive Program in particular draws women who already have a strong background in sports administration, but also women from other industries who want to make a difference in sport.”

The announcement of the programs coincides with the third annual Women’s High Performance Coaching Forum being held at the AIS today and being attended by more than 30 coaches.

Of the 160 coaches accredited at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, only 15 (9%) were female. That was down from 12% at the 2012 London Olympics.

Conde said the lack of female high-performance coaches was an issue across all high performance sport.

He added "this is a systemic issue the AIS is determined to lead on behalf of all Australian high-performance sport.

“It’s true, there has been a progression in the profile and recognition of female athletes and competitions in recent years, but that hasn’t resulted in more high-performance coaching opportunities for women. 

“It’s encouraging to see female coaches from professional sporting codes embracing the opportunity to be part of these programs because we need a collective sport solution. Let’s challenge the status quo and address the very real issue about why a greater percentage of women are not progressing in high performance coaching roles.”

The programs will begin with their first workshops at the end of March, covering areas such as leadership presence, professional networking and understanding barriers to organisational diversity.

Executive Program
Taya Conomos (Olympic and Commonwealth Games Project and Communications Manager, Seven Network)
Emma Jayne Grigson (Health Operations Executive, Australian Defence Force)
Carrie Graf (Director of Sport, University of Canberra)
Rebecca Hamilton (Head of Marketing and Experience, GWS Giants AFL)
Monique Hennessy (Legal Counsel, National Rugby League)
Tal Karp (Director, Sixfold Consulting Group, and former Matildas player)
Sam Lane (Journalist, Seven Network)
Kim McConnie (Head of Big Bash League, Cricket Australia)
Nat Momsen (General Manager Marketing, Nissan Motor Corporation)
Catherine Ordway (Senior Consultant, Snedden Hall & Gallop Lawyers)
Sally Phillips (Head of Women's National Basketball League)
Jo Richards (Performance Team Director, Western Australian Institute of sport)
Katherine Savage (Chief Commercial Officer, Rowing Australia)
Tamara Sheppard (General Manager Performance, Swimming Australia)
Vibeke Stisen (General Manager Commercial and Communications, Hockey Australia)
Sarah Styles (Head of Female Engagement, Cricket Australia)

High Performance Coaching Program
Vyninka Arlow (High Performance Coach, two-time Olympian, Diving Australia)
Kristen Beams (High Performance Scholarship Coach, Cricket Victoria, former Australian player)
Emma Carney (High Performance Coach, Triathlon)
Michelle Cowan (High Performance Coach, West Coast Eagles, Australian Rules)
Heather Garriock (Head Coach of Canberra United, W-League, Football)
Rebecca Goddard (Australian Rules Coach & Australian Federal Police,) 
Amanda Isaac (Head Swim Coach, Abbotsleigh School)
Shannon McFerran (Assistant Coach Carlton in AFLW)
Regan Molyneaux (National Talent Development Coach, Gymnastics Australia)
Tahnee Norris (Head Coach Burleigh Bears Women, former Jillaroos representative, Rugby League)
Katrina Powell (Head Coach Hockey, NSW Institute of Sport)
Ellen Randell (Senior Coach Women’s National Training Centre, Rowing Australia)
Sarah Scott (Coach, Nunawading Swimming Club)
Leanne Speechley (High Performance Swim Coach, Pymble Ladies College)
Stacia Strain (Head Coach & Program Manager, Victorian Institute of Sport)
Alana Thomas (Melbourne Rebels Super W Head Coach, Rugby Union)
Beth Whaanga (Coach, Queensland Rugby Union and Brisbane State High School)

Image: Swimming Australia Chief Executive Leigh Russell and Sport Australia Chief Executive Kate Palmer discuss improving female representation in high performance sport.

Related Articles

7th March 2019 - SportAccord event to focus on women in sport

5th March 2019 - Human Rights Commission and Golf Australia partner to release guidelines for gender equality in golf

20th February 2019 - Jerril Rechter named as new Chief Executive of Basketball Australia

8th February 2019 - Sport Australia’s Kate Palmer says now is the time to stop talking about ‘women’s sport’

1st December 2018 - Four-year strategy announced to drive powerful change for women and girls in sport

30th November 2018 - New research highlights ongoing barriers to women in sport leadership

9th November 2018 - Sport Australia and the AIS announce new Talent Program to address leadership diversity in sport

18th October 2018 - New report shows rising international interest in womens sport

10th August 2018 - YMCA NSW launches LGBTI employee staff and advocacy group

8th June 2018 - Report shows gender inequality in Australia’s major dance companies

18th April 2018 - Community sport key to gender equality

28th March 2018 - Swimming Australia appoints Leigh Russell as new Chief Executive

27th February 2018 - Chief Executives united in pursuit of gender equality in sport

23rd May 2017 - Australian Sports Commission identifies need for more female coaches

28th October 2014 - Women are ‘second class citizens’ in sport governance and management


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