There’s been a dramatic increase in the number of ‘sporty’ girls who are dreaming about reaching the top in sport after being inspired by the historic Lionesses’ win. A survey of over 2,500 children and young people aged 13-24 commissioned by the charity Women in Sport with the support of Sports Direct, showed that nearly 70% of girls who love playing sport and regularly participate dream of reaching the top, almost levelling with sporty boys at 75%.
This is up from 50% of girls, in the same category, two years ago.The overall picture however is less positive. Whilst the success of the Lionesses and the increasing profile of women’s sport has done much to release the hopes of a generation of sporty girls, the survey found that a huge gender gap remains when it comes to participation in enjoyable sport and activity in the first place. Half as many girls (21%) as boys (39%) say that they do lots of sport and activity. 17% more girls than boys say they love sport but lack the opportunity to play. Stubborn inequalities, ongoing stereotyping and practical barriers to participation for girls remain within grassroots sport.
As a result of this, the survey showed that overall a serious dream deficit remains with 31% of girls versus 53% of boys dreaming of reaching the top of sport. Girls are surrounded by discouraging messages that tell them society doesn’t value women’s sport. 4 in 10 girls feel women’s sport is still viewed as of lower value than men’s sport and that girls are not expected to be good at sport.
Women in Sport is calling for:
- Greater investment in school sport – making P.E. a core subject, ensuring girls have access to team sport.
- Sports organisations to provide the right opportunities for teenage girls, making sport more relevant to them the charity has published ‘8 Principles for Success
- Advice and support to be provided to teenage girls to help them to continue sport and exercise during puberty. The Big Sister project, run by Women in Sport and a consortium of partners, provides teenage girls with practical and emotional support to navigate decisions over sports bras and periods and improve self-belief and wellbeing.
- The charity is also working with brands to improve gender equality, such as Sport Direct’s Equal Play campaign.