Bridging The Gap – ISM 2017

One of the most striking and celebrated elements to emerge from the recent Irish Sports Monitor was that the gap between men and women participating in sport in 2017 was lower than has ever been the case.

That is an important step in the direction of normalising sport for Women so that it becomes something that is seen as standard and not necessarily something that even prompts a conversation.

In that sense it is fitting the gap should close so much in this the year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Women being given the right to vote.  Who could imagine todaty that this measure of equality was once not there never mind accepted as being a right.

There is still a gap which means that the discussion and action needs to carry on but in 2017 that gap was down to 45.3 percent of men taking part in sport and 40.8 percent of women.

The biggest gap still exists in younger age groups, emphasising the importance of action at schools level.

In the 16-19 year old category 78.4 per cent of men had taken part in sport or physical activity during the seven days prior to the question being asked.  That compared to only 69.9 per cent of women.

It gets worse before it gets better with the gap in the next cohort climbing to 72.5 percent for men versus 54.3 percent for women.

Lessons need to be learned from the older end of the scale where for the first time ever more women are now participating in sport than men in each of the 45-54, 55-64 and 65+ categories.

The mean average across those three cohorts is now 32.8 percent participation for women versus 29.8 percent for men.

There is hope though at the younger end of the scale as well from the increases seen in participation of Ladies Football and Camogie.  Football is up from 0.8 percent of the population playing to 1.2 percent, substantially more than the entire rugby playing population while Camogie is also up from 0.5 to 0.6 percent.

In the lower numbers the figures need to be treated with a little more caution but the overall trend is rising, coming through from greater participation in both sports at juvenile level.

If that can be fostered and developed over time we will get beyond the cliff that impacts so much on women in sport in the transition from primary to secondary school through a mix of sport being seen as OK and issues more specific to girls in terms of body image becoming less prevalent and less damaging through all strands of society.

Tomorrow we will look at the gaps that exist in income level on participation.


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Image Credit: Inpho Photography

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