The National Olympic Committees of Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Lithuania and Slovakia have joined their efforts to contribute to the European overall aim of achieving a full gender balance in the representation in decision-making positions in sport governing bodies by 2020.
The collaborative partnership is focusing on developing a network of National Olympic Committees that is going to serve as a platform for sustainable national sport management training programmes and mentoring systems for future female leaders in sport, on educating and improving their competencies in order to prepare them for more demanding positions in sport, and on promoting gender balance and raising gender awareness and commitment to gender mainstreaming for board members and personnel in leading positions in sport.
Analysis of the current situation
According to the findings of the needs analysis in participating countries, women remain underrepresented in leadership positions within sport organisations. The most prominent barriers identified by the project partners were the lack of networking opportunities for women in sport, perceptions of women as less qualified than men and gender stereotyping that prevents women from being hired into positions of more responsibility, as well as a lack of opportunities for women to participate in education and training that can develop their management and leadership skills.
Although participation numbers of women in sports continues to grow, there has not been a corresponding addition in the number of women in top-level administrative positions within the sports industry. Due to this trend, the lack of the female voices at the decision-making levels of sport enterprises is becoming increasingly apparent. While women have made notable progress in leadership in business corporations, little has changed in the sport industry with still far fewer women than men in senior decision-making positions in sports management. Women in sport organisations are more likely to be hired into positions with less power, less pay and fewer opportunities for advancement.
Administrative leaders within sport organisations and governing bodies play a major role in deciding how sport is structured and who gets to participate. Through this decision-making power, these individuals influence and shape the meaning of organised sport and all those involved. Despite the exponential growth in women’s participation in sport, women are severely under-represented as high-ranking decision makers in sport organisations compared to their male counterparts.
One of the most prominent barriers that prevent women from advancing in sports organisations is the lack of strategic networking opportunities. Another barrier identified for women who pursue higher-ranking sport leadership positions is gender stereotyping that prevents them from being hired into positions of more responsibility. Barriers appear to emanate from social constructions of gender whether in regards to the efficacy of social networks or the (mis)alignment of expectations of leadership responsibilities and assumed masculine and feminine skill sets. Despite these perceptions, women tend to fair well when given leadership responsibilities in sport.
It is important to consider the environment in which sport leadership takes place. Management is primarily about the daily work of producing outputs and meeting goals. In terms of the detailed skills of management, there are various aspects of management tasks. The skills of planning, budgeting, organizing, staffing, controlling and problem solving are very important for success. Management skills are important for success but leadership is more than that – it is about being able to implement change.
The leadership skill important for moving an organisation successfully through change is the ability to establish the direction and set the course for the organisation. Being a leader is about more than simply guiding a team to an ultimate goal (managing tasks).
Leadership is also about getting people to embrace the vision and grow to become leaders themselves. That’s why women need to be skilled in both management and leadership. Both management and leadership skills are critical to career success for women in sport organisations.
Project partners have developed the project to support women in sport by tackling identified problems. One of the key activities of the project is a sport management training programme. The main purpose of the training programme is to develop individual competences of women in sport. However, it also aims to create a learning community of future female leaders of sport organisations in Europe. In order to achieve this, participants will be given the opportunity to share what is likely to be a wealth of experience and expertise. Furthermore, participants of the training programme will transfer, apply and adapt theoretical principles to their own sport organisations, which will establish them as leaders in their sport organisations.
Throughout the lifetime of the project a number of activities will be implemented. To name a few, besides the above mentioned training programme, partners will organise several meetings and organise the final conference. For more information, see the table bellow.
|Kick-off meeting||22-23 February 2016||Zagreb, Croatia|
|Training session for course deliverers||1-3 June 2016||Dubrovnik, Croatia|
|Sport management training programme – Session 1||16-23 October 2016||Rome, Italy|
|Mid-term meeting||27-28 February 2017||Prague, Czech Republic|
|Sport management training programme – Session 2||21-28 May 2017||Paris, France|
|Final conference||11-13 September 2017||Bratislava, Slovakia|