Women feel less valued in sports jobs, says new report
20.06.2018By Luca Arfini
Today, Women in Sport, a UK charity aiming to advance gender equality through and within sport, published ‘Beyond 30% – Workplace Culture in Sport’.
The outcomes of the report are based on the workplace culture within the main sports organisations in the UK; portraying a negative image of the sports work environment with high levels of gender discrimination and under-representation of women in senior leadership roles.
“We led this research to provide the sport sector with in-depth understanding of the issues that affect women in the sport workplace. Now we want to work with sports organisations to build a more inclusive workplace culture, where both women and men can reach their full potential,” said Women in Sport´s CEO, Ruth Holdaway.
The report’s main findings show an evident difference in how men and women feel at the work place. In fact, while only 42% of women believe that there is an equal treatment of the two sexes in their workplace, the number increase to 72% when the same question is asked to men.
“I sense that a man can do things at 75% and get away with it, but, as a woman, you have to do it at 110% just to prove you’re as good,” a woman declares in the report.
Furthermore, the research underlines an emphasis on sporting competence as a measure of professional value, precluding the career progression of talented women. Indeed, 56% of women believe participating in sport gives you a professional advantage.
“I think there can, at times, be a sort of unwritten language or currency at work, that unless you play professional sport or have at least played it to a certain level, then you can’t be as good at your job and are less credible somehow,” another woman affirms in the report.
The study, which was carried out between September 2017 and March 2018, includes a survey involving 1152 women and men working in the sports sector, plus 42 in-depth interviews of career-minded people of the two sexes to answer to two questions; ‘Is culture impeding women’s progression?´ and ‘What can be done to ensure that sports organisations have cultures in which both women and men thrive?’
According to Women in Sport, the only possible solution to deal with the existent gender gap is that the organisations recognize the cultural issues present within their workplaces. To be effective the cultural change has to happen throughout the organisation, this way creating a better working environment for everyone.
“I think there’s no secret that in the sport sector, historically, there’s a culture of the old boys’ club in terms of leadership and decision-making,” a man comments in the report.
For Women in Sport, improving the situation is possible, but both men and women have to be aware of the current challenges and work together positively from the top to break the actual barriers. This would allow a more inclusive work environment and would ensure a better representation of women in the leadership positions.