Governing bodies across the sports industry are now taking more action than ever before to drive inclusivity and equality, and the role of women in sport at all levels, on the pitch and behind the scenes, has never been more sharply in focus. FIFA recently grabbed the headlines by announcing their goal to double female participation in football around the world to 60 million by 2026, and ensure all member associations have at least one female on their board.
Prize money in mixed gender sports is now beginning to reach parity too; a further sign that key decision-makers in the world of sport now have equality high on the agenda. However, many argue there is still a long way to go. Here, we ask prominent women from within the sports industry their thoughts on the future of sport for females…
Rachel Brown-Finnis, BT Sport pundit and former England goalkeeper
There’s never been a better time than now for women to be involved in every aspect of sport. There are so many role models from the elite side of sport and the teams that have been successful in recent times – the netball team, football team, hockey team. Also there are now so many visible female presenters, pundits and commentators across every sport, and if you look in the background of sport again there’s never been more women involved. I don’t believe in glass ceilings at all; I just think the lack of numbers of women within sport is down to the fact women don’t necessarily believe that there is a place for them in the industry, and that’s just a myth.
Kait Ludwig, Club Marketing & Business Operations Manager at the Rugby Football League
I think now is probably one of the best times to study sport and to get into the industry. I think we’ve had a whole bunch of incredible female trailblazers who for the past decades have worked really hard to establish themselves, and now it’s obviously led to a greater awareness of females in sport and the opportunities for females in sport. I think as long as you know your subject matter and you can prove that you’ve got the skills behind it, then equally you’ve got just as much chance of getting to the bigger roles as anybody else would.
Casey Stoney, Manchester United Women’s Manager and England Assistant Manager
I agree and disagree, but there’s definitely a glass ceiling. Could a woman manage a Premier League team? No. So there’s definitely a glass ceiling there. There are no women in the entire EFL, so there’s a glass ceiling there too. Does it mean they can’t? No, but it’s about having the opportunity and I don’t think perceptions have changed enough in women’s football and coaching for that to happen at the moment. The future’s bright though; female coaches are improving and there’s more of them. There are also more female players and the game is changing. The most successful sports teams in this country are female. Cricket, rugby, football; it’s not a coincidence. So someone is doing something right.
Keeley Baptista, Programmes Manager at Kick It Out
My personal opinion is that I don’t think there’s a concrete ceiling, and the glass ceiling is as thick as you want it to be. If you’re determined to progress in your career and get as high as you can, then absolutely be determined, get where you want to be and keep that drive going until you get there. I think if you can’t get there in your first instance then there will automatically be other ways and routes that you can work on, develop, and upskill yourself to be able to get to where you want to get to.
This article originally appeared in UCFB’s Future Sport magazine.