The importance of sport in our daily life cannot be overstated, as it contributes significantly to fitness, health, the economy and self-development, teaching values and skills like discipline, teamwork, respect and perseverance.
It is all the more regrettable, therefore, that the sport world should still be plagued by inequalities between women and men.
A gender-friendly climate should become a standard feature of sport institutions and I have no doubt that the sport world will be the first to reap the benefits.
Coaching is still recognised as a gendered role, dominated by men. Based on figures in seven EU Member States it could be estimated that between 20%-30 % of all sport coaches in Europe are women. These figures also mirror the gender distribution in different sports. Female coaches are often found in sports that have a high level of female participants (e.g. dance, gymnastics, figure skating and equestrian) and they predominantly work with women.
Perfect example is in waterpolo, as we see the top women waterpolo nations are coached by males and only one, New Zealand being coached by a female.
USA - male coach AUS - male coach HUN - male coach ITA - male coach RUS - male coach SPN - male coach GRE - male coach GER - male coach NED - male coach CHN - male coach CAN - male coach JPN - male coach NZ - female coach CAN - male coach KAZ - male coach BRZ - male coach GB - male coach SA - male coach
At the elite level the number of female coaches seems to be very low and in those cases where female coaches work with athletes at higher performance levels they typically occupy assistant coaching positions and are seen as supporting male head coaches.
Female coaches have experienced barriers at the social/ cultural level by dominant gender ideologies and stereotypes in the world of sport and face the reality.
Women should have equal opportunities to achieve a role or job as an instructor or coach of the sporting activity of their choice.
The sport sector could increase women’s skills and knowledge, which makes them more employable in sport and the wider labour market.
By doing this the sector could also benefit from more female coaches, as there is a lack of coaches in general. More female coaches could also lead to more women being physically active in sport.
Due to their own personal preferences, cultural traditions or religious beliefs, some women feel more comfortable with female coaches.
A more inclusive coaching workforce may also start to attract women from under- represented backgrounds (e.g. migrants, people with a disability) to participate in sport or be involved in a coaching role, but also in development/executive roles.
A larger focus is necessary on the content of the coaching role itself, i.e. the development of different and new coaching styles and practices which may attract not only more girls and women into sport, but also more boys and men.
Female top level coaches as role models seldom receive attention, while they may also serve as examples of 'women can' and if disseminated could impact into other 'male' arenas in society.
Do male international coaches have more presence on pool deck, being able to influence decisions in the world of waterpolo?.....you be the judge on that one!