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Good Read on Gender Inequality in Female Athletic Sports!!!

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One of Hopewell Sports Nations key pillars has and always will be to highlight female youth athletics through media coverage. It’s always been our view that female athletics is under funded, under supported and not provided the same media coverage as its counter part male sport teams. We appreciate all of our dedicated sponsors that have recognized this and provided us the ability to continuously cover Female Youth Athletics!

David Benay at activeforlife.com recently reviewed female athletic statistics of girls who remain in sports comparatively over male sports and the retention of players in female sports was astonishingly lower. Multiple barriers to participation range from lack of time, availability, and awareness of sport, to changing priorities, low confidence, negative body image, perceived lack of skill, and feeling unwelcome. Moreover the reasoning was very interesting that was associated to why and what women can do to help support our young girls remain in sports. An excerpt from the article states:

“The report encourages having more women in leadership positions within sports organizations. This includes coaches at the grassroots level and board members at every level of sport (local, provincial, and national).” – David Benay

In this part of the report they go into details about the lack of female role models which discourages girls from remaining in the sport long term. But if you look around how often do you see your daughter’s coach or board of directors full of male leaders?

To be fair I fully believe our young girls would benefit more from having female coaches and board members looking out for their development, let’s face it they have direct experience in the sport over a male counter part so why not! Personally, I have helped to develop my own daughters love for sports and have been an assistant coach with her throughout her time playing which I don’t believe is a detriment by any means but do I lack the expertise of a female coach with thousands of hours of real game time and development, of course! It is important to note though that if you’re a mom or female athlete that could step up into one of these “Role Model” positions like recreational league board positions and coaching positions that could benefit female athletes, YOU SHOULD, and your counterpart male members should have an understanding of the benefit it provides to the female sport and the longevity of its youth players.

Article:

Girls today have the opportunity to play pretty much any sport they wish to try, including traditionally male-dominated sports such as hockey, boxing, rugby, or football. Yet as a new report on girls and women in sport reveals, getting—and keeping—girls in the game requires more than simply allowing them to play.

Research by Canadian Women & Sport presents alarming information about gender inequity in sport. According to the 2020 Rally Report [PDF], although young girls and boys enroll in sports at a similar rate, girls’ participation in sport begins to decline around age nine, and drops off sharply in the teen years.

By their late teens, one in three girls who used to play sports have quit, compared to just one in 10 boys. This gender gap persists past the teen years, and continues into adulthood.

Girls are less likely to get involved and stay involved in sport compared to boys. This comparison underscores the need for a gender lens to be used in sport. Girls and women continue to experience and benefit from sport differently than boys and men do.

-Canadian Women & Sport Rally Report

Percentage of individuals reporting weekly sport participation:
Age group Boys/Men Girls/Women
6-8 52 55
9-12 68 58
13-15 64 47
16-18 56 38
19-23 49 25
24-31 43 21
32-38 34 20
39-54 25 15
55-63 25 13
Source: Canadian Women & Sport, The Rally Report, (2020)

A lot has already been done for gender equity since the last report from 2016, but more needs to be done. It’s a rallying cry to encourage action in order to improve sport for women and girls.


Barriers to sport participation:

There are many reasons why girls drop out of sports. According to the Rally Report survey, common barriers to participation range from lack of time, availability, and awareness of sport, to changing priorities, low confidence, negative body image, perceived lack of skill, and feeling unwelcome.

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Income and culture plays a role too. Girls in families with an income over $100,000 have a higher chance of participating in sports than families with lower incomes. Ethnicity is also an interesting factor that influences participation rates. Girls that self-identified as Indigenous participated less than girls self-identifying as Caucasian, South Asian, Asian, and Black.

Two big takeaways for parents and coaches

1. Multisport girls are more likely to stay in the game

When girls do participate in sports, they participate in many. According to the report, over 80% of girls surveyed who did participate in sport played two or more sports. Some even participated in over six.

From personal experience as a coach and physical education teacher, I’ve noticed that multisport girls just love to play most sports and can easily pick up a new one when they’re in high school.

Even though they might drop out of community sports, many of these girls still continue to play sports for their school. Once they graduate high school, many of them decide to be active in other ways such as jogging, participating in CrossFit, or going to their local gym to lift weights or participate in fitness classes.

2. Role models matter

We all have a role to play when it comes to gender equity in sports. According to the report, same-gender role models and active parents have a positive influence on girls and teenagers.

Girls who have these kinds of role models to look up to are more likely to participate in sports and experience the many benefits, such as increased physical health and development of leadership and socialization skills.

Participation in sports has been shown to improve mental health. According to this study, women who played sports also reported perceiving themselves in a more positive way and said that the skills they learned helped them in their professional careers.


In order for more girls to fully realize these benefits, communities and sports organizations need to increase enrolment and retention of players. The report encourages having more women in leadership positions within sports organizations. This includes coaches at the grassroots level and board members at every level of sport (local, provincial, and national).

Also, if we want to inspire the next generation of girls, there needs to be better representation in traditional and social media. Women’s sport needs to be televised more often so that young girls can see and emulate strong role models.

These role models are not only players. Girls need to see that women can coach and referee matches. They need to see more female sport reporters and commentators. Having all kinds of role models in the spotlight can only better the chances of sport participation for our young girls.

Keeping girls in the game is important for gender equity in sport. It’s an important step not just for the betterment of sport, but also our society.

Hello Hopewell! While I am not originally a Hopewell native, it has been my home for over 12 years. My wife and I have three beautiful children that all play Hopewell sports including baseball and softball. My wife and I are both active in coaching our Children's teams. I am a member of the Hopewell Youth Baseball Board of Directors and you will probably see me out at the fields at least a few days a week. Most recently coaching my youngest sons TBALL team.

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