Why are 84% of Canadian women missing out on the benefits of sports?

Mar 11, 2016

New study finds severe gender inequality for Canadian women in sport

Ottawa, Ontario – Canada may be a sport-loving nation, but when it comes to access to sport for Canadian women, it has a long way to go for the win. So say the findings from a new research publication, unveiled today by Canada’s dairy farmers and the Canadian Association for Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS).

The report, entitled Women in Sport—Fuelling a Lifetime of Participation, highlights the severe gender inequality for Canadian women in sport, and is the first of its kind, pairing data and research from academic journals and peer-reviewed articles, with primary research obtained from national surveys and the analysis of four years of female sports media coverage.

Among its key findings:

  • 41 per cent of girls between the ages of 3-17 years do not participate in sport— and this jumps to 84 per cent in adult women;
  • Only 24 per cent of all Athletic Director positions and 17 per cent of all head coaching spots in the CIS are female;
  • Only 38 per cent of senior staff and 29 per cent of board members are female, among national and multi-sport organizations;
  • A review of programming data from Canada’s primary national sports networks, concluding that of approximately 35,000 hours in programming in 2014, only 4 per cent went towards the coverage of women’s sports, with over half of that percentage due to women’s professional tennis coverage and the Sochi Olympics;
  • Only 5 per cent of the total area of top national print media sports coverage researched was dedicated to women;
    • While only 24 per cent featured any coverage at all;
  • The representation of women in sport commonly centres around femininity, rather than highlighting their athletic accomplishments.

“As champions of healthy living and playing an active role in their communities, Canada’s dairy farmers are addressing inequalities through the Fuelling Women Champions (FWC) initiative” saysCaroline Emond, executive director, Dairy Farmers of Canada. “Launching this research publication is not only a significant stride for addressing pertinent social issues, but it is step in the right direction to propose actionable solutions and get people thinking about what they can do to change the situation.”

Adds Karin Lofstrom, Executive Director, CAAWS: “Through the FWC initiative, Canada’s dairy farmers are influencing positive social change and we are thrilled to have helped discover new, Canada-specific data through this research partnership. The next step is to address these research findings and make progress in advancing the action-orientated recommendations for women’s sport in Canada.”

With the purpose of the research publication being to inform, educate and inspire action across Canada, the study brings much-needed attention to the realities for women in sport and the challenges they face. To guide the research process, the publication aims to explore and uncover what principle hurdles impact female participation in sport.

The study was funded by Canada’s dairy farmers as part of their Fuelling Women Champions movement, which focuses on advancing female sport so that all women and girls, regardless of age or ability, can access and experience the benefits of sport.

For more information, to obtain a copy of the study, or to get involved in the initiative, visitwww.womenchampions.ca. Follow and join the movement online to #ChampionHer.
An animated infographic, illustrating many of the research publication’s key statistics, can be found by visiting www.womenchampions.ca/infographic

What you can do:

  • Schedule time for sport and recognize its importance for physical, mental, and social health;
  • Help girls’ confidence in sport by focusing on fundamental movements such as kicking, running, jumping, and catching before introducing sport-specific skills;
  • Encourage girls to join and continue to play, coach, and officiate a variety of sports from youth into adulthood;
  • Support elite female athletes by attending and watching events and by following them on social media;
  • Promote female sports news stories that focus on athletic skills, healthy living champions, accomplishments, and profiles positive role models;
  • Encourage the “next generation” of female sports enthusiasts by supporting an environment that is diverse, welcoming, and fun.

Take a look at the research spread for a more in-depth view:
Download: Research publication (.pdf, 19 pages, 2.8MB)
Download: Research publication summary (.pdf, 7 pages, 1.5MB)
Download: Infographic (jpg, 2.3MB)

About Fuelling Women Champions Fuelling Women Champions is a national, multi-year initiative spearheaded by Canada’s dairy farmers and it is dedicated to the advancement of women in sport. Canada’s dairy farmers are personally committing their time, energy and resources to this cause, and have partnered with several thought-leaders, celebrated athletes, and sports organizations.

Media requiring further information, please contact:
Sandra Da Silva Dairy Farmers of Canada
(647) 633-3741