Young women in sport – breaking down gender stereotypes

Learn how to help raise the profile of women in sport and encourage girls to play sport.The rise of young women in sport has been gaining momentum in recent years. In fact, just this year a number of significant milestones have been overcome.

  • Eleni Glouftsis became the first female field umpire in AFL history, officiating her first match between Essendon and the West Coast Eagles.
  • In only its second season, the Women’s Big Bash League was embraced by cricketing fans with huge crowds (121,000 in 2016/2017 season) and impressive TV ratings.
  • This year also saw the successful introduction of the AFL Women’s league. The inaugural game drew massive crowds, with approximately 2,000 spectators turned away from the ground after it had reached capacity.
  • At last year’s Rio Olympic Games, females outnumbered male athletes for the first time at a Summer Olympic Games. In Rio, our female gold medallists outnumbered the men 20 to three.

But according to Jerril Rechter, CEO of VicHealth, the interest in women’s sport has not been sudden. Rather, it has been gaining momentum for some time. This year VicHealth launched a campaign #ChangeOurGame to increase the profile of women in sport and encourage female participation in sport.

“Women in sport is no different to men’s sport,” explained Ms Rechter. But she admits that there’s still a long way to go before achieving equality between men and women participating in sport. “Women are significantly under-represented in management, coaching and officiating, particularly at the higher levels,” she said.

So, how can we contribute to the campaign to raise the profile of women in sport and encourage girls to play sport?

  1. Model an active lifestyle. Even though it might not seem like it at times, parents are often their children’s biggest mentors. Promoting a healthy and active lifestyle is the first step toward encouraging girls to play sport.
  2. There is no ‘I’ in team. Girls often thrive if they are doing something that is larger than themselves. To encourage a healthy sense of competition, it’s important to reinforce the benefits of teamwork.
  3. Promote function not shape when it comes to body image. Unfortunately, one of the reasons that girls don’t participate in sport during adolescence is because of their tendency toward poor body image. This is only reinforced when sporting commentators talk about how elite sportswomen look rather than how they perform. Pay attention to how you talk about your own appearance and that of other people. Children will model their parents’ behaviours. It is also important to encourage your daughter to think about what their body is capable of rather than how it looks.
  4. Foster a growth mindset. Encourage your children to try different sports and be open to new experiences. Our capacity to learn is remarkable and it is important that children learn to take risks and challenge themselves.
  5. Accept failure. In order for children to grow and be comfortable about taking risks, they need the unconditional support of their parents. One of the huge benefits that comes from girls playing sport is that they learn to be resilient. It is important that girls learn to fail and how to bounce back. Don’t discourage failure because it’s a valuable lesson for children.

At Esperance Anglican Community School, we are fortunate to provide a wide range of sporting opportunities for both girls and boys. Just last week, our girls participated in an AFL tournament. We were also very pleased to see a strong group of young women participate with great success at Country Week earlier this year. Our girls won the Volleyball, placed second in Netball and third in Dance. To further support and encourage young women to participate in sport, our School has recently been accredited by Netball WA to become a Netball specialist school.

If you’d like to learn more about the sporting and co-curricular opportunities at EACS, download our Prospectus.

Learn how to help raise the profile of women in sport and encourage girls to play sport.