Gender equality in sport: Getting closer every day

Briefing 07-03-2019

Traditionally, sport has been dominated by men, both in terms of participation and governance. Women were excluded from the first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896, and were only allowed to gradually start joining in four years later. Even though women's presence and involvement in the Olympic Movement have progressively evolved, girls and women across the world still get fewer opportunities and less investment, training and corporate attention when they play sport. Today, women's participation in sports governance structures has slightly improved. The International Olympic Committee currently counts 33 female members and honorary members out of a total of 144. Moreover, fewer than 20 % of the members of the governing structures of affiliated bodies are women. Similarly, in 2015 only 14 % of all top decision-making positions in individual EU sports federations were occupied by women. In spite of the fact that the number of women actively involved in sport has increased dramatically over the past 50 years, female coaches across the globe are a statistical minority in nearly all sports, at all performance levels. In Europe, between 20 % and 30 % of all sports coaches are women. Even though the gender pay gap in sport has been narrowing over the years, it still very much exists. A total of 83 % of sports now award men and women equal prize money, with cricket, golf and football displaying the greatest pay gaps. There are also still significant differences in the media coverage of women's and men's sports. Research shows that sports journalism in the print media is a man's world, with over 90 % of the articles being written by male journalists and more than 85 % of the coverage being dedicated to male athletes. In 2010, in a bid to establish greater equality in the most popular sport for girls and women – football – the European football governing body UEFA launched its women's football development programme and funded an extensive series of projects across Europe to drive growth and sustainability in women's football. The European Parliament has also been consistently advocating for gender equality in sport. As part of the institution's campaign for the 2019 European elections, high-profile players such as Nilla Fischer will be encouraging women to vote on issues that matter to them.