Gender Balance in Sport Report


A new report into the gender metrics in global sport has found the performance of most organisations below par when it comes to women on their boards.

The Gender Balance in Global Sport Report launched today by UK and Australian business, Women on Boards, reveals that many of the top sports governing bodies have fewer than 20 per cent of board seats held by women.

This includes International Sports Federations (15%) and the National Olympic Committees (16.5%), 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.

Speaking in London today, report author and Executive Director of Women on Boards, Claire Braund, stressed the importance of shining a light on gender metrics in sport.

“Sport is big business and plays a huge role in the economies and culture of many countries. Fewer female voices at the top level in sport will result in female athletes remaining second class citizens in terms of salaries, sponsorship and media coverage.”

“Sport has the power to change the lives of young women – opening up opportunities for leadership and development and transforming gender norms. It is equally important to have female role models in the corporate boxes and the boardrooms as it is to have those who represent their country.”

Ms Braund said improved governance, in particular in board election and selection processes, was key to addressing the poor number of women on most sports 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.”

“Good governance builds opportunities to increase transparency and independent oversight that opens up the prospect of improved gender balance on boards.”

“This Report highlights the need for urgent action in the multi-billion dollar world of sport to address the twin issues of better governance and gender imbalance on governing boards. Increasing levels of participation and success by females in all sporting arenas is ‘raising the bar’ when it comes to acceptable numbers of women in key decision making roles on sports boards.”

Report Recommendations

  • The following recommendations are intended for 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 Report

The Gender Balance in Global Sport Report (the report) is authored by Women on Boards and delivers a baseline dataset on the participation of women on sports governing bodies in the lead up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Gendered datasets in the report cover more than 600 bodies including:

  • 128 of the 204 National Olympic Committees
  • 54 Commonwealth Games Associations from the 71 participating members of the Commonwealth
  • 30 Paralympic Committees for Commonwealth and Olympic Sports
  • 34 International Sports Federations
  • 14 Paralympic International Sports Federations
  • Olympic and Commonwealth sports bodies in Australia, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
  • Paralympic sports bodies in Australia, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales

Click here for a full copy of the media release