More women in sport executive roles? A new program could see just that

More women in sport executive roles? A new program could see just that

Raelene Castle

There’s no denying it’s been a big 12 months for women’s sport.

From huge crowds across the major leagues– AFLW, NRLW, cricket and soccer through to momentous headway on gender pay disparities (we’re looking at you World Surf League) as well as some big appointments with the likes of Rugby Australia’s Raelene Castle and Dr Julia Walsh appointed as first coach for a national men’s basketball team.

But Sport Australia, in line with the AIS, aren’t about to let the momentum slide.

Today, the two organisations announced a new initiative aimed at addressing and combatting the “gross underrepresentation”– as deemed by Sport Australia’s CEO Kate Palmer–  of female sport executives and high performance coaches.

According to the AIS, these two areas in particular, require greater focus and effort in order to achieve true diversity in Australian sports. The 12-month program will offer emerging female leaders in sport a range of transformational skills and is fully-funded by the AIS and Office for Women. A total of 16 executives and 16 high performance coaches will be selected.

“Sport Australia and the AIS have a suite of programs to enhance diversity in sport, but the AIS Talent Program has been created to specifically address what remains a gross under-representation of women in high performance coaching and executive positions,” Palmer said.

“In executive positions, women represent 22 per cent of Board Chairs and just 13 per cent of CEOs across more than 60 national sporting organisations that are funded by Sport Australia and the AIS.

“The picture is no better for female high performance coaches, who represent less than 15 per cent of coaches across Australia’s high performance system. Looking at Olympic sports as an example, only 15 of the 160 accredited coaches at the 2016 Rio Olympics were female – just nine per cent. That’s a declining trend when you consider it was 12 per cent at the 2012 London Olympics.

She further added that although there’s been significant progress made to enhance women’s leagues and pay inequalities for athletes, female coaches and industry leaders were still frequently being overlooked.

“The rise in profile of women’s professional leagues has been fantastic for the progress of female athletes, but that hasn’t translated into the same opportunities for female coaches and leaders,” Palmer said. “We need to address any systemic biases preventing females taking up these opportunities.”

The program will launch this morning in Canberra.

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