Female Participation in Sport

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For this part of the investigation a planned research report has to be carried out. Many resources will be accessed such as the internet and books. Effective research techniques will be applied and a report will be produced. The topic which is going to be investigated is female participation rates in sport. By looking at many different sports such as hockey, athletics and basketball I will be able to see the struggles woman have had to become an equal force in the sporting world which they are today seeing as in the past the woman was not on a level playing field to men and where seen as giving children to men and putting their meals on the table for their husbands. Straight from the outset this idea was suggested as in the cavemen days the males where known as the “hunter gatherer”. This idea of the “hunter gatherer” allows you to understand why at first the males where so superior to the females. When hunting the males would have to throw spears, wrestle animals in order to kill them for food etc.

These actions gave males a superior head start considering the first events in the Olympics in Ancient Greece was events closely linked to the jobs entailed in hunting. For example, throwing events such as the javelin, the hammer throw etc and also wrestling events. The first Olympics to take place were in 776BC and women were excluded. “Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a women ride on a wheel. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self reliance.”This was said by Susan B. Anthony a suffragist in 1896. It explains in merely a few sentences the struggles of women in sports of the years and the fact it’s a suffragette saying it makes it effective as they are the people that fought for woman’s rights. So as this is an interesting topic area the investigation topic is why it is harder for female to participate in sport than to males.

Review of background literature

Many have researched this topic of female participation in sport and many different reasons have been given why it is harder for female to take part in sport. Over the years female in sport has become a big thing. Women are becoming an increasingly formidable force in the sporting world. The achievements of female athletes are contributing to a higher profile for women in sports so a lot more publicity for female attracts more female to certain sports or sport in general. However, many reports show little change in sport dominance. As recent as 2003 a UK Sport strategy document (2003: 5) reiterated the findings of the Brighton Conference i which stated that ‘Women are under-represented in the leadership and decision-making of all sport and sport-related organisations’ (1994: Principle 6). Yet the importance of having women in positions of influence has been highlighted for over two decades by organisations such as the Women’s Sports Foundation, formed in 1984 to improve and promote opportunities for women and girls in sport at all levels, and by government ministers, most recently Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Daily Telegraph, 7 March 2005).

Several arguments have been advanced to support this view. The essential issue of equality and fairness was raised at the Council of Europe in 1981 and in the Brighton Declaration. The importance of female role models is seen as vital in providing examples to younger women and girls while their continued absence from positions of power only serves to reinforce gender stereotypes. Furthermore, a female perspective in management and decision-making is not only more democratic but allows different skills and experience to be brought to the process of sport (UK Sport, 2003: 5).

Although efforts have been made to promote female involvement, research has always suggested that the power structures of many sports are heavily weighted in favour of men (for example, Hall et al, 1989; Cohen, 1993; Hargreaves, 1994;) and that most educational and amateur sport systems continue to exclude women from positions of power and influence (Birrell & Theberge, 1994: 338). It has been argued that attitudes in some areas have changed reasonably little in the past century – the International Olympic Committee appointed its first women members in 1981, 85 years after the opening modern Olympic Games – (Shaw and Slack, 2002: 86; IOC, 2004) and reports continue to state that women are grossly under-represented as paid executives, board members and elected chairs at the higher levels of sports management (Ferris, 2000: 31).

Female Sports

There is no single organisation for the governance of British hockey or netball: all the home nations have separate governing bodies. As traditionally ‘female’ sports, it might be expected that women would find fewer problems obtaining positions of authority and this is borne out by the present findings. In hockey, between 45% and 50% of committees, on average, and over 30% of boards are currently made up of women. Netball is the most widely played ‘female’ sport in Britain. Whereas traditionally ‘male’ sports have seen greater involvement of women in recent years, netball has remained a predominantly female area in which women still hold the majority of positions. Although Scottish Netball has equal male/female Board representation, England and Wales have over 80% female Board members and all organisations have staff which comprises over 84% women.

Neutral Sports

Tennis in Britain is controlled by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). In 1985 White and Brackenridge found the LTA to have female representation of only 10% on the Council and 5% on the Committee. By 2004 these figures had more than doubled to 20% of Council and 13% of Committee members while women currently form 50% of LTA staff.ii In swimming, White and Brackenridge elected to look solely at the control of the Amateur Swimming Association and found that in 1982 only 8% of officers and 5% of officials were female. From a decision-making perspective, only 12% of committee members were women, a significant contrast to the findings of this study. In 2004 each of the swimming associations of England, Scotland and Wales have staff levels which are over 50% female and women make up 39% of committees and councils in England and 67% in Scotland.

Male Sports

Football and rugby in Britain are each governed by separate organisations in Scotland, England and Wales. In 1985, White and Brackenridge found these two sports to have negligible female participation and did not investigate them further. In the area of governance this position has hardly changed. While female staff members of the national Football Associations number around 40%, representation on the committees of the Scottish, English and Welsh Football Associations is still minimal (4%, 2% and zero respectively) at a time when female supporters and participants is growing.iii The same is true of female membership of national rugby boards and committees in both rugby union and rugby league. However the numbers of women in influential positions within commercial football and rugby clubs around the country tell a different story.

The percentage of female employees in the football club sample averages over 50% although most of these are predictably in junior administrative and supporting roles. But while media attention has focused on the appointment of Karren Brady as Managing Director of Birmingham City in 1993 and the role of Delia Smith as a Director at Norwich City, little heed has been paid to other influential posts held by women. A selection of these include Chairperson at Tranmere Rovers, Chief Executive at Colchester United, Club President at Bristol City and an Executive Director at Birmingham City.

Within the current Championship (previously Division 1) are two female Directors, a Chief Executive and a Director of Operations. At League 1 clubs (formerly Division 2) women fill posts as Club President, Vice President, Chairperson, Chief Executive, General Manager and two Associate Directors. In Scotland, the Chief Executive at Greenock Morton and the General Manager at Livingston are women. In rugby league, a quintessentially male sport, Hull currently boasts a female Chairperson, Managing Director and three board members while Wigan has both a female Chief Executive and Chief Administrator.

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