Women in Sport – By Philippa Lowe19th February 2021
Listening in on the AGB “engaging women in sport” webinar really got me thinking.
A presentation with this title shows immediately that there is a problem. Why wasn’t the title “Engaging People in Sport”.
Within our sport we have a wealth of top level women athletes and coaches – it was surprising that none of these spoke about their experiences. We have an Olympic Bronze medallist, World and European champions, we have female coaches who work with the National Squads, European and Worlds Champions, and the ultimate prize the Olympic Games – where were they?
The sport UK slides left me bewildered – do sports women these days still worry about competing in sport making them look less attractive? Many women I know would be horrified at being objectified like this – I had really hoped these attitudes were left far behind.
The points aired were equally relevant to all – lack of money, time, childcare, body awareness – are these gender specific issues? No. The suggestion that women only beginners courses might be a good idea filled me with a great uneasiness – how does that promote any kind of equality and understanding? Recognising some need more nurturing than others, sure, but recognise this for all.
Do I think there is still a problem? – YES – but I believe its more about understanding that we ALL have differing abilities and skills. Women have strengths and weaknesses and insecurities for sure – so does everyone. Women have many battles in a long road to success – this is not exclusively female.
Please lets not tick boxes. I participated in a Women in High Performance coaching workshop a couple of years ago. We were promised further workshops and opportunities but none became reality – the workshop ran, boxes ticked – end. Ticking boxes changes nothing.
What I do think needs addressing is the language used so that future generations see a women athlete in the same light as a male athlete, a woman coach as able as a male. We have come such a long way – but we shouldn’t stall now.
I heard a comment recently that a young male athlete was disappointed with the coach he’d been allocated because she was female. How shocking is that? Why did he feel like that and what can we do to address this.?
I come from a very male dominated club with a pub club and locker room culture. I’ve been ridiculed for putting on a nocking point – I’ve been mocked for setting up a bow – my archers have been told in front of me to not ask my help. I find some of the comments hurtful even if they are said tongue in cheek, but equally I enjoy banter so its all about balance.
It’s a battle. And yes I have gone home and shed many a “girly” tear – but unless we fight for a change in attitude we cannot move forward
Lets not talk about feeling less attractive by participating in sport – lets open conversations about recognising everyone has different skill sets and abilities whatever their gender, and inclusivity means just that – working all together.