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Progress halts on women’s leadership roles in Australian sport

Progress halts on women’s leadership roles in Australian sport
October 14, 2014

Women's representation in senior leadership positions in Australian sport has slumped, despite the proportion of women directors on boards of sporting organisations having risen over the past five years

The figures come from the latest Sydney Scoreboard, a global index of women on sport boards prepared by University of Technology Sydney academic Dr Johanna Adriaanse

While the proportion of women directors on boards of sporting organisations in Australia has risen over the past five years, women's representation in senior leadership positions has slumped, according to the latest Sydney Scoreboard index.

Women now account for 28% of directors on sport boards in Australia, up from 22% in 2009, but the percentage of women holding the chair has nearly halved to just 12% and the number of women chief executives has dropped to 18% from 21%.

Data from the Sydney Scoreboard, a global index of women on sport boards, shows women directors in the Cook Islands (43%), Norway (37%) and American Samoa (34%) are ahead of both the United States and Australia, which rank 5th and 6th on the index respectively.

With regard to women chief executives in sporting organisations, Australia is behind 15 other countries, including Iceland, Croatia, Northern Ireland, Zambia and Venezuela. For the position of chair, Australia trails Ireland, Zambia, the US, England, Tanzania and Haiti, among others.

The Sydney Scoreboard has been keeping track of trends in about 50 countries since 2010, when the index emerged from the 5th International Working Group (IWG) World Conference on Women and Sport that took place in Sydney.

The author of the Sydney Scoreboard, Dr Johanna Adriaanse (pictured below), recently joined with the advocacy group Womensport NSW, which promotes increased equity, access and participation for women and girls in sport, to keep this important data current and meaningful.

Dr Adriaanse, who is a senior lecturer in sports management at UTS Business School and a core member of its Centre for Corporate Governance, stated "this project is crucial in helping accelerate the number of women in sport leadership positions in Australia and globally.”

Womensport NSW President Susan Horwitz said the Sydney Scoreboard was a sophisticated tool, adding "it shows the real picture for women within sporting organisations, and the trend is very clear – the progress for women in Australia and in many major countries abroad, is not good enough.”

Dr Adriaanse presented on this topic at 6th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport in Helsinki, Finland in June.

The Conference attracted 800 participants from nearly 100 countries; the largest number of attendees since the inception of these World Conferences in 1994.

Dr Adriaanse will be delivering two addresses at the upcoming 2014 Asia Pacific World Sport and Women (APWSW) conference - being held at the Sydney Cricket Ground on the 27th and 28th October 2014.

Her APWSW addresses will present key outcomes of the 6th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport.

The 2nd Biennial APWSW conference will be considering the business of women in sport featuring high-profile speakers from a cross-section of backgrounds from grass roots to professional athletes. 

The APWSW conference is anticipated to bring together 600 representatives from international and national sports governing bodies, sporting associations, athletes, coaches, corporate partners and all practitioners in the sporting world, to discuss how to increase women’s involvement in the business of sport from grassroots participation to board level representation.

For more information on the Sydney Scoreboard go to

Click here for more information on the APWSW conference.

Click here to register for the APWSW conference. 




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