“I believe one of the biggest barriers in driving the visibility of women in sport is the lack of opportunity, sponsorship and media coverage of sportswomen. Many sports have male officials, male pundits, male managers, and male staff. By giving women the opportunity to have these roles, it will increase our visibility and our share of voice.
“I really believe closing the gap between male and female sports is imperative for growth for all sporting codes,” Shannon says.
The good news is that in Aotearoa New Zealand, female voices in governance across sport are on the increase, with the number of Sport NZ partner organisations achieving the board gender equity target rising to 91% in 20212.
However, the drop off rate for girls taking part in sport is exponential in New Zealand compared to boys. According to Sport NZ, from age 15, the number of physical activities young women are involved in drops by 29% compared with a drop of 18% for young men3. The type of sports also change for young women, from organised physical activity such as team-based sports, to self-driven activities such as running, pilates and walking.
According to Sport NZ, engagement with sport suffers when fun disappears particularly for moderately engaged young women. Social judgement, body confidence and confidence in abilities all factor into the decision to stop playing sport3. Parents, grandparents, teachers and coaches have a vital role to play as a community of supporters to our young wāhine.