Every sporting organisation has its own culture. A culture is set by the way leaders — including those with roles on the committee and board, coaches, players and volunteers — behave, their attitudes, beliefs and ideas. A culture starts from the top and trickles down. Given this, your leaders must create a culture that encourages women and girls to be more involved. They need to share their ideas and beliefs about why sport needs female leaders, and then take practical steps to make it happen.
There are different ways you can start to change or improve the culture within your sport to make it more inclusive of women and girls.
Improve awareness: Help your current leaders to learn more about what gender equality is and how to create a positive environment that fosters women’s participation and involvement.
Don’t worry – you don’t need to become an expert. There’s lots of tools, resources and training already available. For example, this VicHealth resource can be used as a checklist to build the capacity of your organisation to address gender equity in your organisation.
Support new leaders: It is important to ensure all new leaders are provided with an induction to enable them to support active leadership in gender equality. New leaders need to know that equal participation of women is at the core of your sport, and that they have a responsibility to contribute and drive action through their role as a leader.
Set up a women’s committee: Having a women’s committee will show that your sport has a strong commitment to gender equality. The committee will help lead initiatives and programs aimed at attracting more women and girls.
Here’s an example how leadership at the club committee level can result in great outcomes for women and girls:
The La Trobe University Hockey Club is a great example of a women’s leadership program at a club enabling greater participation by women and girls.
The SSAPP program evaluation found having a CEO and board committed to implementing a healthy and welcoming environment was the most often reported enabler for change.
Your sport organisation needs to take an active role to identify and support women to take on leadership roles within your sport. Women and girls have many of the skills required to be leaders including a willingness to dedicate time and energy to make a difference; passion for their sport; and commitment to making improvements.
Some of the ways your sport can recruit women and girls to leadership positions include:
- Survey women when they join or renew their membership to find out about their skills and if they’d be interested in taking on a leadership role.
- Talk to women and girls who show an interest in or potential to be leaders about opportunities to take on leadership roles.
- Use newsletters to encourage women and girls to get involved and list opportunities.
- Use friendly language when you recruit for volunteers on and off the field.
- Consider setting a target for women on club committees (e.g. a number or percentage that the club can work towards achieving).
- Provide support for women and girls to attend training courses.
Vicsport’s Are you on Board? page provides useful resources, fact sheets and practical recommendations for individuals and for organisations wanting to improve gender diversity on boards.
Change Our Game is a commitment by the Victorian Government to improve equality in sport and active recreation. The Change Our Game website showcases best practice promotion and development of female sport in Victoria. This includes stories of change, role models, case studies and links to major media stories.
The Guidelines for the Recruitment and Retention of Women in Leadership Roles will assist you to evaluate your organisation’s culture and consider how it is gender inclusive and supportive of women in leadership roles.
Clubs should contact their relevant State Sporting Association to request support, and find out about any initiatives they may be developing to support women in leadership positions.
For more information on gender equality training and support, visit: