British Columbia

Canadian women falling behind in sport says new report

The wide ranging report entitled "Women in Sport: Fuelling a Lifetime of Participation", outlines how girls and women are trailing their male counterparts in all realms of Canadian sport.

"People think that we're further ahead than we are ... but the average woman isn't participating "

A new report says the status of women and girls in sport in Canada needs attention. (CBC)

In the simpatico world of sports and statistics new research has crunched the numbers on a subject not normally captured by a game sheet or Corsi geek.

The wide ranging report entitled "Women in Sport: Fuelling a Lifetime of Participation" outlines how girls and women are trailing their male counterparts in all realms of Canadian sport.

"People think that we're further ahead than we are," said Karin Lofstrom, Executive Director of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport. 

'The average woman isn't participating'

"They see female athletes doing well at the Olympics, at the high end of the picture," said Lofstrom. "But the average woman isn't participating and in young girls there's huge dropouts."

Some of the numbers:

  • 41 per cent of girls age three to 17 do not participate in sport.
  • 84 per cent of adult women do not participate in sport.
  • Only 29 per cent of sport board members are women.
  • Only 17 per cent of head coaches in collegiate sport are women.
  • Women received only four per cent of the coverage on Canada's national sports networks in 2014, and only 5.1 per cent in print media over a four-year period.

Media drives interest

Lofstrom says she was most surprised by the low media statistics, noting that media attention is a huge driver of attitudes and participation.

The report says female teams and athletes get only 4 per cent of the sports broadcast media coverage in Canada, and only 5.1 per cent of the coverage in print media. (David J. Phillip/Associated Press)

"When people see the [women's] World Cup soccer in person or on TV, or see the women's hockey team or Olympic figure skating, there's surges in registration. It just drives interest." 

The research also shows that if a girl hasn't played a sport by age 10 there's only a 10 per cent chance she'll be physically active as an adult.

It also shows participation rates drop significantly — by 25 per cent — during the teen years. 

'Not putting their girls in anything'

"There's so many more distractions for girls and boys now, but the girls are falling further behind. Our demographic is changing too, where newcomers to Canada might put their boys in soccer, but they're not putting their girls in anything," said Lofstrom.

"We still haven't cracked the nut to get the environment right that we can get girls involved in sport, and then get them to stay." 


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