Gender Equality in Sport – Jennifer Oaten
Women’s sports have seen a drastic increase in popularity in Australia throughout 2022. With more and more people tuning into AFLW, NRLW, Super W, WNBL, Super Netball, Australian women’s cricket, the Hockeyroos or the Matildas regularly, it is evident that things are getting better for female athletes all over the country.
In terms of gender equality, the sports world has made tremendous progress in recent years. Women have accomplished great things in a variety of sports, and girls now have greater opportunities than ever before to participate.
Some of the reasons why these trends are changing:
- Attitudes toward women in sports among males and females are changing.
- For females, sports is now seen as a viable professional option.
- Females in male-dominated sports such as AFL are defying gender restrictions and preconceptions.
- The media is increasingly featuring stories about women’s sports.
- Aside from athletes, women are also better represented as CEOs, board members, coaches, officials and administrators in the sports industry.
- More sponsorship and prize money is now available for females.
However, there is still a long way to go. Girls are not always encouraged to participate in sports as much as boys, and many people believe that they are not as good at them. This must be changed
4 Benefits of sport for girls
Sport is great for girls’ physical wellbeing, developing life skills, and maintaining mental wellbeing; sport also positively impacts girls’ academic achievement.
1. Physical Wellbeing
- Helps develop skills, strength, fitness, balance and coordination.
- Strengthens bones and protects against disease by encouraging weight-bearing activities.
- Helps you sleep better at night.
2. Life Skills
- Develops communication skills and builds self-confidence and identity while developing broad friendship groups.
- Builds a sense of community and camaraderie.
- Provides girls with leadership opportunities through coaching, umpiring and playing.
- Exposes girls to pressure-filled situations where they can learn to keep going even when things get tough.
- Teaches girls how to take feedback graciously and stay humble in both victory and defeat.
3. Mental Wellbeing
- Promotes the development of positive body image.
- Provides a mechanism for coping with stress.
- Builds resilience and self-belief.
4. Academic Achievement
- Assists with higher levels of academic achievement. This is because sport requires commitment, discipline, organisation, and time management, all skills transferable to academic success and life beyond school.
- Helps aerates the brain and provides brain stimulation making it more efficient and effective.
How does Santa Maria encourage girls to participate in sport?
Sport has always played a significant part in the life of Santa Maria girls, and we believe that every girl should have the opportunity to participate in sports, regardless of her experience or performance level. It is well known that girls often prefer single-sex physical education (PE) classes and sporting activities. This is because they feel less self-conscious and are better able to perform to their potential without boys being present.
Our students have an opportunity to participate in sport, whether in PE classes, House sport or in our extensive interschool sporting program. Each carnival has team games to encourage high levels of participation for all students, not just those who are talented athletes.
We promote role models:
More than ever, we now have strong female role models in sports that students can aspire to. There is visible advocacy for the promotion of participation in sport.
Names such as Ash Barty (Tennis), Arianne Titimus (Swimming), Sam Kerr (Soccer), Ellyse Perry (Cricket), and Erin Phillips (AFLW) have all helped to elevate the Australian interest in female sports. Our students recognise that women can compete at high levels in every sport and that our sporting programs provide them with opportunities to develop their skills and confidence to begin this journey.
The Santa Maria College Olympians below are great role models for our girls.
- Yale Steinepreis 2015 – kayaking squad for the Paris 2024
- Annabelle McIntyre 2013 – rowing Tokyo 2020
- Leah Parry (Quakenbush)1997 – softball Tokyo 2020
- Lucy Biedermann (Chaffer) 2000 – skeleton racer competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics
- Ashleigh Nelson 2004 – hockey player, 2012 Olympics, 2010 Commonwealth Games
- Prue-Anne Reynalds 1974 – cyclist 1984 and 1992 Paralympics
- Sue Palfreyman (née James) 1969 – rower competed in the 1980 Olympics
We provide numerous opportunities:
- Our girls have many opportunities to participate in sports. We offer a wide variety of sports, so there is something for everyone. Specialist staff who are experienced in working with girls means that girls can develop their talents and self-belief to reach their potential in sport.
- We make sure student voices are heard, and students are provided with the types of opportunities they want, including alternatives to traditional physical activity programs.
- Like many of our alumni, I participated in the ACC (Associated & Catholic Colleges) competition. Girls at Santa Maria College today play in the IGSSA WA (Independent Girls’ Schools’ Sports Association – WA); eight girls’ schools compete at carnivals and in home and away fixtures.
Girls are just as capable as boys when it comes to sport. With the right encouragement and support, they can excel in any sport. Girls should be given the same opportunities as boys to participate in sports, and we must continue working to break down the barriers that prevent them from doing so.
The amazing feats that women have achieved in sports continue to push us forward through that glass ceiling. Even deciding to try out for a team in school or a club or showing up to a women’s sporting event is a way that helps to honour those female athletes that came before and helped us get to where we are today.
We need to ensure our girls don’t underestimate their abilities; we need them to try new sports and find their passion because you never know where it might take them.