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Women are ‘second class citizens’ in sport

Women are ‘second class citizens’ in sport
July 7, 2014

A new report into the gender metrics in global sport has found the performance of most organisations below par when it comes to women on their boards.

The Gender Balance in Global Sport Report launched this week by Women on Boards reveals that many of the top sports governing bodies have fewer than 20% of board seats held by women.

This includes International Sports Federations (15%) and the National Olympic Committees (16.5%), despite a pre-Sydney Games International Olympic Committee target that a minimum of 20% of all board members of National Olympic Committees must be female by 2005.

Introducing the report, report author and Women on Boards Executive Director Claire Braund stressed the importance of shining a light on gender metrics in sport.

Braund explained “sport is big business and plays a huge role in the economies and culture of many countries.

"Fewer female voices at the top level in sport will result in female athletes remaining second class citizens in terms of salaries, sponsorship and media coverage.”

“Sport has the power to change the lives of young women – opening up opportunities for leadership and development and transforming gender norms.

"It is equally important to have female role models in the corporate boxes and the boardrooms as it is to have those who represent their country.”

Braund said improved governance, in particular in board election and selection processes, was key to addressing the poor number of women on most sports boards.

She added "in the majority of organisations board members are elected by members or via nomination from a club, regional or country sports body.

"This election process rewards those who have participated in elite sport or served time with the sports’ governing bodies rather than those with the skills sets for the job.”

“Good governance builds opportunities to increase transparency and independent oversight that opens up the prospect of improved gender balance on boards.”

“This Report highlights the need for urgent action in the multi-billion dollar world of sport to address the twin issues of better governance and gender imbalance on governing boards. Increasing levels of participation and success by females in all sporting arenas is ‘raising the bar’ when it comes to acceptable numbers of women in key decision making roles on sports boards.”

The Gender Balance in Global Sport Report is authored by Women on Boards and delivers a baseline dataset on the participation of women on sports governing bodies in the lead up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Gendered datasets in the report cover more than 600 bodies including:

• 128 of the 204 National Olympic Committees
• 54 Commonwealth Games Associations from the 71 participating members of the Commonwealth
• 30 Paralympic Committees for Commonwealth and Olympic Sports
• 34 International Sports Federations
• 14 Paralympic International Sports Federations
• Olympic and Commonwealth sports bodies in Australia, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
• Paralympic sports bodies in Australia, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Women on Boards started as an informal network in 2001 and was founded as a company in 2006 to improve the gender balance on Australian boards. It is funded through subscriber fees and earnings from services to organisations seeking to improve gender diversity.

It operates primarily in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Click here for more information.

Claire Braund is a speaker at the upcoming the 2014 Asia Pacific World Sport and Women (APWSW) Conference being staged in Sydney on 27th and 28th October.

To find out more about the APWSW Conference and how to register, please visit






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