Gender gap cut — sports club governance

04 Oct, 2021
Gender gap cut — sports club governance
Dr Mel Johnston and Dr Michael Naylor

Females in Kiwi sports clubs was a focus of this year's National Sport Club Survey, with some positive results, says AUT researcher Dr Mel Johnston.

The National Sport Club Survey (NSCS), which provides a snapshot of the management and operation of clubs nationwide, is conducted yearly by the New Zealand Amateur Sport Association (NZASA) and AUT’s Sport Performance Research Institute (SPRINZ). This year around 1200 clubs across 80 sports took part.

This year, a comprehensive set of survey items related to the involvement of women and girls in sport clubs was included. Results for 2021 showed an increase in the percentage of female and committee members, 49% compared to 44% for each of the preceding two years. However, just 27% of clubs reported a female chair for boards or committees. The survey also found that women comprise less than one third of coaches (12%), administrators (30%), managers (28%) and officials (23%).

Dr Johnston, who co-leads the NSCS with Dr Michael Naylor, would like to see more female coaches and managers in clubs, but is heartened by near overall gender parity in club governance. “We know that when women are making decisions, other women benefit.”

Respondents were asked if their club does anything to specifically engage female participants and 41% reported said yes. Examples included dedicated female club committees, purposeful welcoming of women to the club, female-only online platforms, childcare and female mentors were reported to be effective. The survey also focused on the extent to which sport clubs are female friendly. Respondents strongly agreed that coaches and equipment were equally available for women, however clubs could make improvements such as better lighting in outdoor areas and ensuring there are suitable changing facilities for women.

Other important metrics tracked year-on-year relating to club membership, governance and finances showed positive movement. Just 5.1% of sport clubs report losing money in 2021, compared to 11% in 2020; similar to what was reported in 2019 and 2018. The average membership of a sport club in New Zealand also rebounded in 2021. Clubs reported an average of 200 members, a return to membership numbers in 2018, compared to decreases in 2019 and 2020. The percentage of those under age 30 on a sport club board or committee was just 8%, which has been consistent for the past three years.

NZASA chairman, Gordon Noble-Campbell is encouraged by the results. “Sport clubs are essential to the well-being of many New Zealanders. At a time when many families and communities are experiencing COVID-related challenges, clubs are continuing to play a key role in connecting communities, even when opportunities to actively participate have been limited for many.”