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Canada's culture of sport impedes female participation


Published: 06/21/2016

by Arielle Duke

For more information, to obtain a copy of the report or to get involved in the initiative, visit Follow and join the movement online to #ChampionHer.

Female sport participation is considerably lower than that of its male counterpart. According to a new report, titledWomen In Sport: Fuelling a Lifetime of Participation, one reason for this visible female underrepresentation is the male-focused culture of Canadian sport.

The report, commissioned by Canada's dairy farmers and the Canadian Association for Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS), highlights the many structural, social and demographic hurdles that exist for women and young girls. The most frequently expressed hurdle was the predominant male culture of sport. Study respondents believe that there is limited public interest in female sport.

“Now that hurdles have been identified, let's push it further and focus on what can be done to create lasting change. The Fuelling Women Champions initiative is a perfect tool to start with,” says Caroline Emond, executive director of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Overall, the current sport landscape is male dominated, which contributes to young female athletes not recognizing sport as a fun part of everyday life. This culture leads girls to have low self-confidence, a fear of failure and body image issues.

What's critical to cultivating social change is having more women in positions of power. The report found that in national and multi-sport organizations, only 38 per cent of senior staff and 29 per cent of board members are female. Further, in collegiate sport, only 24 per cent of all athletic director positions and 17 per cent of all head coaching spots are female.

“Through analyzing this report, we believe there are Canadian system-wide actions that can be taken to advance women's equal participation in decision-making positions,” says Karin Lofstrom, executive director of CAAWS.

As champions of healthy living and playing an active role in their communities, Canada's dairy farmers are addressing these inequalities through an initiative named Fuelling Women Champions(FWC). FWC is dedicated to advancing women in sport and helping to see that no hurdle exists that might hinder passion for sports.

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