New findings that show widespread sexism within the football industry have been branded “heart-breaking and devastating.”
The comments, from Women in Football (WiF) Chair Ebru Köksal, follow the release of data collected by Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS) on behalf of WiF.
Gathered from a survey sent to all 4,200 members of WiF, the results show that two thirds of women in the industry have been discriminated against on the basis of their gender.
The research also highlights widespread fear about speaking out, with only 12% of incidents reported. When incidents were recorded, many members felt that they were not taken sufficiently seriously, describing their reports as “brushed under the carpet” or recalling how the discrimination they suffered was treated as “banter”.
While there was some good news, with 78% of women saying they agree or strongly agree that they feel supported by their colleagues in the workplace and a further 66% feeling supported by their employer, Covid 19 has created other pressures, with a later survey revealing that 59% of WiF members feel that their mental health has suffered during the pandemic, while three quarters believe that men and women have been treated differently by their employer.
To help address these problems Women in Football has unveiled a new corporate membership scheme to help clubs and governing bodies understand the problem and act decisively. An expanded directorship programme named after journalist Vikki Orvice will place two candidates a year in boardrooms to obtain key leadership experience.
Importantly, the organisation is also trying to channel the ideas and attitudes of younger generations coming into the industry by creating a youth council to change mind-sets and encourage women of all ages to speak out.
For now, the findings are a stark reminder of the challenges facing the football industry in making women at all levels of the game feel welcome, safe and empowered.
To keep on top of any additional issues and disparities caused by the pandemic, Women in Football is currently undertaking a series of short ‘pulse surveys’, the latest of which is due to be released shortly. This longitudinal research project, also managed by SMS, is designed to monitor the impact of the last few months on employment opportunities and conditions within the sport. Armed with the findings, WiF will work with its partners to ensure that any disproportionate impact on women is highlighted and mitigated.
CEO of Women in Football, Jane Purdon, added: “Thousands of women work in football but our survey shows that there is still much work to do to ensure that every woman feels comfortable in football and has the opportunities and support to reach her full potential. ”
Sports Marketing Surveys is committed to helping clients understand, support and invest in women’s sport. SMS is a signatory to the R&A’s Women in Golf Charter and in July 2020, SMS appointed Sue Anstiss MBE as its Special Advisor in Women’s Sport.
To learn more about women in football, please visit www.womeninfootball.co.uk