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Other Sports - 17. December 2010.

Sports body demands more female leadership

- Despite approach of 2012, sector still not giving women a sporting chance -

A new report from The Commission on the Future of Women’s Sport published today has revealed that despite some headway, the sports sector is still not reflecting gender diversity at senior management levels. This, it claims, is hampering the work to increase women’s participation in sport.



The report, entitled ‘Trophy Women? NGB Leadership Audit 2010’, found that only 1 in 5 members of national governing body (NGB) boards is female, and seven, out of total of 46 NGBs, do not have a single woman on their board.


However, there some encouraging signs of progress, particularly within traditionally male-dominated sports. British Judo, the Amateur Boxing Association for England and the England and Wales Cricket Board have all appointed their first female board members, while there has also been an increase in female chief executives, with three being promoted into the role in the last year, taking the tally to eleven.


Rachel Heyhoe-Flint, former England Cricket captain, hockey international and recently appointed Women’s Game Representative on the ECB Board said: "The sports world is changing rapidly – it’s no longer the domain of old-boys networks and members clubs. There are many capable female candidates out there who can, and will, enable the game and the sector as a whole to build on the significant progress it has made in recent years."


Citing research *** that organisations with a diverse board are more effective and better at decision-making, the report argues that the current state of play not only harms sport’s performance and profile, but a lack of women at the top is preventing the sector from reaching the women’s market – arguably the biggest space for sport to grow.


Sue Tibballs, Chief Executive, Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation comments: “These figures show that while a few individuals have reached the top, in general there is significant under-representation of women at a senior level. As a result sport continues to be ill-equipped to understand and engage with half the population. We desperately need more women in top jobs to grow grass-roots female participation and to secure a viable sporting legacy for the next generation.”


Currently over 80% of UK women do not do enough physical activity to benefit their health, while only one of ten women plays competitive sport*. Women’s elite sport still only attracts 2% of sports media coverage and significantly less commercial investment**.


Sport and the Olympics Minister, Hugh Robertson commented: “Sport and the Olympics Minister, Hugh Robertson commented: “The report’s findings, while encouraging at certain levels, demonstrate that we still have much further to go in showcasing a modern and progressive world-class sports industry sector. A balanced board is critical for commercial reasons and to demonstrate to the outside world that sport is representative of modern Britain.”


The Commission, a 12-strong body, whose members include Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Dame Kelly Holmes and Hope Powell, are among a team of leading figures backing the report.


Chair of the Commission, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said: “I truly believe that there is a place for talented women at the top in our sector. Our aim is to work hand-in-hand with women and sports bodies to understand the barriers these women face, identify the solutions and throw out entrenched ideas about who is best qualified to do the job.”


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