How Can We Get More Women Into Sport?
It can be difficult to talk about gender – especially, it seems, as you grow older. Statistics have shown that during primary education boys and girls are almost identical in their sporting habits, with just over 50% of each gender claiming to play around three hours a week of in school sports. At around the age of eleven, the statistics begin to change. By the time they reach about 18 years old, the difference between girls and boys playing regular sport is about 13%. That statistic continues and by the time you’re looking at the average across all adults, there are 10% fewer women than men involved in sport.
Now, if you aren’t shocked by that statistic then you may be shocked by this one. You likely are aware that there is a men’s Premier League and a women’s in English football, but did you know that the average man playing in the English Premier League is paid between £25,000 and £30,000 a week. That is ridiculous enough, but it becomes more so when you consider that the highest wage available to female footballers in the equivalent league is £20,000 – per year. Just to put the final nail in the coffin - there are also rules in place meaning that women’s Premier League football clubs are only allowed to play a maximum of four players the top end wage – a system about as far away from the men’s league as it could be.
This is likely part of the reason for the introduction of This Girl Can, a national campaign seeking to decrease the difference between male and female involvement in sport. This Girl Can aims to combat the fear of judgment that Sport England found to be the chief reason for women not competing or taking part in sport. Everyone sweats, that’s a fact, but Sport England found that, for women, there was an anxiety that goes with it, the pressure that – even during something as mundane and normal as jogging at the gym – they had to uphold certain standards.
To me it seems clear that the best way to move forward is to normalise perceptions on gender. We’re conditioned from a young age to treat each gender differently and it means that – in later life – men and women are typecast to certain roles. Men are meant to be masculine, women are meant to be submissive – the ideas on gender are changing slowly but even today, as the This Girl Can campaign proves perfectly, there needs to be a determined, national effort to overcome the obstacle of fitting your gender.
So how do we move forward? We boost women and men equally. Praise both men and women for their efforts – both physical and mental. Encourage your friends, your girlfriends, your mums and your aunts to push themselves and not worry about what people think. It might be a slow process but, with the combined efforts of everyone, we can overcome the need for campaigns like This Girl Can.