Friday, November 15, 2013

Did women lose out after the London Olympics?

Olympics women Christine Ohuruogu Britain gold
Christine Ohuruogu PIC Mike Hewitt via The Mirror

Some young girls don't take up sport because they think a celebrity lifestyle is easier - just one of the issues discussed in England this week at the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. 

Sitting with the weight of the British parliament behind it, the committee members heard from athletes and advocates. And people who want to understand why the fabulous London Olympics and Paralympics haven't brought thousands of women into sport. 

Tuesday saw the first session in what will be a lengthy inquiry. Their remit? Oh, simply to solve the problem of women's disengagement with sport. You can read more on the homepage - maybe they will find out why.

At the weekend the Independent on Sunday looked at the Women's Sports Fitness Foundation's arguments on boards. (sorry to be only sharing it today, very slack of me) The WSFF want sports bodies to have 30% female board membership if they're state-funded. Emily Dugan wrote: 

"Six sports boards do not have any female representation at all – among these are British Cycling, British Wrestling, and England Squash & Racketball.

Former Paralympic athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said: "We're in the 21st century and we need to move on a bit and stop finding reasons not to change.

"The numbers are just too low. A lot of governing bodies are trying hard, but we need to push them to get better."

Though the Government has given NGBs until 2017 to make sure at least a quarter of their board members are women, it has not yet succeeded in dramatic change. Of 57 boards surveyed, just 33 met the minimum expectation.

Not all sports are lagging behind, however. Nine now have female CEOs, and 16 NGBs already have more than 30 per cent female board members."

And on Tuesday the BBC reported world 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu's views on celebrity. Speaking on BBC Radio 5, she said: 

"The best thing we can do is show them the benefits of doing sport - whether at elite level or recreational level where you are just trying to keep fit and stay healthy.

That's what is troubling, that more needs to be done to work out why these girls are not accessing sport at a recreational level.

We wonder how come the Olympic Games, the biggest competition in the world, came to London and it's not gained much traction. [It is] because there are bigger and better images that are grabbing these young people's attention."

... So what do you think? I'm preparing a talk on this very topic at the moment so it's all flying around in my head.

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