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Gender and Sport

Sport is traditionally associated with masculinity, and in many societies, it is considered inappropriate for women to take part in sporting activities.

Women and girls can often face a number of practical barriers to participation in sport. As well as a general lack of safe and appropriate sport facilities, a lack of skills, resources and technical support, females may face additional physical constraints including lack of time and lack of childcare facilities.

Women may also be exposed to physical and/or verbal sexual harassment, as well as other dangers related to participation in sports programmes - because of location and time of day, for instance.

There is a lack of female role models such as women coaches or leaders, and women are under-represented in decision-making bodies of sporting institutions.

By the age of fourteen twice as many girls than boys are dropping out of sports.

The Women's Sports Foundation

The Women's Sports Foundation is the UK's leading organisation dedicated to improving and promoting opportunities for women and girls in sport and physical activity.

It was originally set up in 1984 by women working in sport who were concerned about the lack of sport and recreation opportunities for women and girls. They were also concerned about the low representation of women in sports coaching, sports management and the sports media.

Since then, the Women's Sports Foundation has been involved in a variety of projects to promote women's sport. These have included:

  • Training for Britain's top sportswomen on working with the media, attracting sports sponsorship, employment opportunities in sport and recreation, and receiving benefits from sports science support
  • The National Action Plan for Women's and Girls' Sport and Physical Activity, advocated a multi-agency approach to promoting sport and physical activity for women and girls
  • Women Get Set Go: a personal development course intended to provide a springboard for women into sports leadership, whether as coaches, administrators or officials

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