Sportswomen win gold, but still paid in bronze

An update on a report into the gender metrics in global sport has found the huge pay gap in many sports played by both men and women is not likely to close anytime soon. This is despite a concerted push by many global sportswomen to be rewarded equally to their male counterparts.

Download the 2016 Gender Balance in Global Sport Report
The addition of pay-gap data to Women on Boards Gender Balance in Global Sport Report (the report) shines a light on just how un-level the playing field is across most sports.

This comes at a time when female competitors from the world’s top sporting nations took home more than their fair share of medals from Rio.

The report, released today by Women on Boards, highlights the pay gap as another of the systemic barriers facing women in sport across the globe.

WOB Executive Director, Claire Braund, said there is a general public acceptance that the gender pay gap in sport is a by-product of the increasingly commercial nature of sport, where major media rights and sponsorship contracts drive many tournament and player paycheques, and it is not able to be alleviated.

“There are a lot of arguments put forward that women’s sport is not as physical and not as good to watch,” Ms Braund said. “Yet this is really just an example of bias at play. Had our culture been used to seeing women, rather than men, play football and rugby for generations, we would find the idea of men playing these games a bit novel.  It’s all a matter of perspective.”

The report also found there have been positive signs that female players are no longer prepared to be treated as second class citizens and sports bodies are seeking to address gender pay issues. 

“We saw a great example yesterday where the Netball Australia has doubled the pay and increased allowances for players – largely on the back of the new broadcast partnership with Nine and Telstra.”

In women’s cricket in both Australia and the UK action is being taken to ensure women are paid more equitably as the sport records huge growth in young girls and women flocking to the game. 

“While women’s cricket has been on the rise in last decade in all forms, the shorter T20 game has seen as significantly benefitting female players - raising their profile through increased ground audiences, TV coverage and improving sponsorship opportunities. This has supported the case for all top female cricketers in Australia, England & Wales and India to be placed on financially improved central contracts to enable them to play the sport professionally year-round,” Ms Braund said.
“While women’s football is making some progress, the causes of the gender pay gap are symptomatic of a broader problem. These are highlighted in the report from the Women’s Football Task Force at FIFA in 2015, Chaired by Australian Moya Dodd, as under-representation and under-resourcing, requiring  inclusion in decision-making and investment in the women’s game."

"The main governing bodies in world football have few women on their boards. The UK fares little better while Australia is making greater progress and has a professional independent board, with three senior corporate women. “

Ms Braund said the report has been released at a challenging time for sport globally, in particular with high profile drug scandals and match fixing. 

“There is a clear need for reform of both the governance and leadership in global sport and a much greater role for women in both these areas.”

Many of the top sports governing bodies still have fewer than 30 per cent of board seats held by women and election and selection processes are a key factor in keeping them out of the race. 

This includes International Sports Federations (18%) and the National Olympic Committees (16.6%), despite a pre-Sydney Games IOC target that a minimum of 20 per cent of all board members of NOCs must be female by 2005. 

The statistics vary within sports and across countries:
  • Only Tennis recorded a significant increase in the percentage of female board members, but it was coming off a base of zero percent in 2014. Taekwondo, Aquatics, Boxing and Wrestling all recorded a slight increase in the percentage of female board members.
  • At country level, 20 National Olympic Committees recorded a five per cent or greater loss in the number of women on their boards, while 28 improved by more than five per cent. Again many of the top performers came off a zero base
  • Only Malawi, Australia, Bermuda, Norway, New Zealand, Kiribati, Samoa and Tuvalu have more than 40 per cent women on their national Olympic boards and committees. The USA has 31.3 per cent females and the UK has 26.7 per cent.
  • In Para sports, only the boards of Table Tennis, Basketball, Curling and Bocca recorded an increase in the number of women on their boards.
"In the majority of organisations board members are elected by members or via nomination from a club, regional or country sports body. This election process rewards those who have participated in elite sport or served time with the sports’ governing bodies rather than those with the skills sets for the job.”.

“We often see this with federated sports structures where States have voting powers to the national body. The only way to disrupt the status quo in this instance is via independent directors.

Ms Braund said the recommendations from the 2014 report remain unchanged.

For Interviews
Claire Braund on +61409981781
For the full report go to:
Graphs and data tables available on request. 

Recommendations remain unchanged

In 2014 the Women on Boards Gender Balance in Global Sport Report made the following recommendations to the Olympic and sports movement as whole:
  • Mandate governance processes and tie compliance to funding outcomes where appropriate.
  • Pay particular attention to the composition and operation of the board, including:
    • mandated terms of office;
    • at least two independent board members; and
    • an independent chair of the audit committee
  • Require transparency in disclosing the gender balance on the boards of all National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and related member groups, and collect and publish the data.
  • Lead by example – the IOC, CGF, ANOC, IPC and other top level bodies should set voluntary gender targets for their boards and committees for others to follow.
  • Disclose the funding provided to male and female athletes.
  • Disclose the gender composition of teams at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.
  • Review the process for election for the IOC to include independent nominations. In the first instance include the IOC Women’s Commission as one of these.

About the 2016 Report

The 2016 Gender Balance in Global Sport Report (the report) by Women on Boards is the first update to the inaugural report published in June 2014. Gendered datasets in the report cover 314 bodies including:
  • 129 of the 206 National Olympic Committees
  • 27 Paralympic Committees for Olympic Sports
  • 28 International Sports Federations
  • 14 Paralympic International Sports Federations
  • 59 National Governing Bodies (NGBs) in the United Kingdom
  • 57 National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) in Australia
Latest newsRSS