Why Diversity and Gender Equality is Important


The second session of European Athletics Women in Leadership Seminar took place on the 12th of August. The aim of this seminar was to:

  • Define and recognize the difference between equality and equity and the reasons for gender under representation in athletics.
  • Explain the importance of gender equity in athletics and how we can influence change in your present role.
  • Demonstrate experience of under representation and how in our roles we can influence the change we wish to see in athletics.

Throughout the course of the seminar, the participants discussed the importance of gender equality within athletics and emphasised that women’s involvement has ample benefits to the association and sport. Gender equality is essential to empower both women and girls, and the visibility of female role models is fundamental. By doing this, we hope to achieve women’s full and effective participation and create equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making. It was noted that women bring a different range of skills and attributes to our sport and can provide a different view from a women's perspective to issues and initiatives.

When the participants were asked what we (organisation and affiliated clubs) can do to influence gender equality within our own roles, committee’s, and clubs, they mentioned the following points:

  • Keep female inclusivity top of the agenda consistently, regardless of role or involvement.
  • Identify women who have promise and potential who wish to do more and support their leadership journey.
  • Increase the confidence of female administrators, athletes, and coaches.
  • Develop resources to encourage and educate awareness about equity.
  • Highlight positive role models.
  • Change policy or strategies to be inclusive.
  • Male advocates are essential to female leadership development, and must be included in conversations and action plans.
  • Create flexible learning opportunities and remove the entry barriers for participation.

On our own board and committees, the highest representation of women representation is 25%. We feel we can do more to increase female representation amongst these committees and structures by highlighting the pathway to be elected, whilst pro-actively encouraging strong female candidates to engage.

Research has shown that many women in athletics are underrepresented due to lack of confidence and self-esteem, social categorisation, limited opportunities, and lack of role models. To combat this under representation, it is necessary that we highlight female role models from the sport. Role models positively influence our behaviours and actions. They can motivate us to uncover our true potential, raise issues that others may not have the confidence to flag, and increase our own personal standards. We in Athletics Ireland encourage every committee, club, and member to boost the profiles of some of their athletes, coaches, and administrators. By being aware of the potential we each hold as a role model for a woman in athletics, or giving greater visibility to existing female role models, we open the door a bit wider for the generation of female role models to come.

Participants within the programme wish to encourage every woman not to be limited by their own imagination. The key message was to ‘Be ambitious and identify what steps you need to put in place to be the change you want to see in athletics.’ Make sure you speak up, have a voice, and are heard regardless of your involvement in the sport. Athletics Ireland are committed to providing a positive and open environment for women to develop their leadership skills and we look forward to adopting and strengthening female participation and empowerment of all women and girls at all levels!

If you would like to hear more about this topic and what your club can implement to promote gender equity, contact lillyannohora@athleticsireland.ie

Click HERE for the Women In Sport homepage.

Newsletter sign up

Sign-up for the Athletics Ireland E-Zine with exclusive interviews, coaching news and offers!

Which of the following best describes you?