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Diversity in sport must include its management

For a long time, sport was organised by men, for men, but with time, women have found a place doing sport. Is sport management equally diverse ?

Frédéric Delannoy, National Technical Director, French Workplace Sport Federation (FFSE)

In sport, as in many other areas, management serves as an example for general development. In other words, the more women there are in positions of responsibility, the more women will take part in sport, since playing conditions will have been designed with them in mind. This question motivated the Ministry for Sport at the beginning of the 21st century, in the wake of women’s football teams who wanted to be able to use pitches often reserved for men. Different measures were undertaken to change the dominant trend, including quotas favouring diversity in top teams, and initiatives to increase the number of female national technical directors in federations and State-based technical management. Surprisingly, no schemes and little encouragement were available for getting more women into management and jobs in sport. However, the gender problem in sport jobs has been highlighted by the various scandals which have emerged concerning abuse, often gender based, in sport. Women make up only 34% of those obtaining sport management qualifications from the Ministry for Sport. The same trend is observable in STAPS, where only 20% of the students on coaching courses are women, compared with 45% on adapted physical activity courses. When one considers that the gender representation in management has an impact on participation, there is a lot to be done in this area in order to reach real diversity. In this landscape, workplace sport is an exception.

It is actually largely practised by women (in some geographical areas over 80% of participants are women) but in competitions men are in a majority, even if this tendency is declining, and it is managed mostly by men.


18 months ago, the FFSE introduced training courses for professionals in sport management, to prepare them for intervening in the workplace (with the creation of CAPE – a workplace physical activity coaching certificate) and 40% of the 170 students who qualified are women. Women actually make up 100% of coaches for yoga, a predominantly female activity. Similarly, the @ workbyffse service, which supports businesses in their sport projects by getting sporting structures alongside, counts 54 women out of a total of 115 coaches, or almost 50%. These trends confirm statistics for STAPS students and raise worrying questions about the future of women’s competitive sport. It is in this area that the gap is the greatest, and the trend in workplace sport confirms this. This could partly be explained by the share of work in the home, which is still very unequal, linked with the fact that adult competitive sport mainly takes place at times which impact family life. This is no consolation and does not give much hope for positive change. Nevertheless, diversity in sport must include its management. It is time to initiate proactive measures to get more women into all areas of management and coaching.

Sport et citoyenneté