The Olympic Federation of Ireland held its Gender Equality National Action launch at the Sport Ireland Campus last night where it was joined by many though not all of its member sports, by Sport Ireland, by third-level institutions and by the OFI Gender Equality Commission.
The event provided updates on three important areas of work including the EU Erasmus+ GAMES project as well as F-Air Play, a partnership with third-level institutions across Ireland to enhance visibility in reporting and portrayal of female athletes, and the launch of a research study, commissioned by the OFI, on barriers being faced by women in High Performance coaching.
The meeting also heard from Female Coaching network founder Vicky Huyton, IABA Performance Director Patricia Heberle, Sport ireland High Performance Coaching Lead Ciaran Ward and Swim Ireland High Performance Director Jon Rudd.
GAMES (Guidance to achieve more equal leadership in Sport)
Ireland is one of eight European National Olympic Committees taking part in the GAMES Programme supported by the EU Erasmus+ Programme in partnership with the EOC.
Under the programme, the OFI has created a National Action Plan to promote gender equality in leadership positions. The Plan was approved by the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s Board, with progress already in motion under the key actions outlined at today’s event.
The OFI will address equality within leadership, focusing on structural measures, pathways and supports for women in the workplace. The Olympic Federation of Ireland will publish an annual update on progress.
OFI CEO Peter Sherrard and Gender Equality Commission member Rob Hartnett will be in Prague over the next two days for the penultimate gathering of the eight countries involved in the project.
“This event brings together three very important strands of work being conducted by the OFI Gender Equality Commission,” said Commission Chair Lochlann Walsh.
“We are very grateful to our partners in the EU, the EOC EU office, Sport Ireland and the participating third level institutions for helping us to bring it to life.”
“Working together we look forward to making a real difference to Gender Equality in leadership, coaching and in the portrayal of female elite athletes.”
Women in High Performance Coaching
Research has shown that across the world, including within Team Ireland, women are severely under-represented in the area of High-Performance coaching, despite significant improvements in gender balance across other areas of Olympic Sport.
The Olympic Federation of Ireland has conducted research into the issues facing Women in High Performance Sport in Ireland, with some of the key findings published at the event and which we will report on later in the week.
“Although Olympic sports provide the best examples of gender equality with gender-balanced teams and powerful female athlete role models, we know from IOC data that the proportion of female high-performance coaches remains too low, at just 13% internationally. It is important for us to identify and understand why the gap in high-performance coaching is proving much slower to change,” said Peter Sherrard, OFO CEO.
“This report provides insight into the issues facing women in high-performance sport. Ireland had five female coaches present in Tokyo, in comparison to 39 male coaches. However, of the sports which responded to the research survey, half have a strategy to increase the number of women employed as high-performance coaches and two-thirds of the sports which responded also have a target to increase the number of women on their high-performance coaching staff.”
“By specifically identifying the issues facing women in high-performance coaching, we can help the Irish Sports system to act from an informed position to make targeted changes to this area over the next two Olympic cycles.”
In line with the OFI’s Gender Equality Strategy to increase visibility for women’s sport, the OFI worked in partnership with third-level institutions to develop a pilot programme for students which is being funded by the Sport Ireland Women in Sport Programme.
This programme will educate our future media leaders on the importance of equality.
The project has been created with support from the University of Maynooth, Dublin City University, University of Galway, Technological University Dublin, University of Ulster, Mary Immaculate College of Education, University of Limerick and others.
Content creation was supported by Joan O’Flynn, Dr. Anne O’Brien, Dr. Sean Crossan, Dr. Neil O’Boyle, Dr Katie Liston and Dr. Caroline O’Sullivan and the pilot programme was curated by Learning Consultant Mairin Murray.
“By working with Third Level institutions we are able to highlight to future journalists, editors and broadcasters the current issues facing the coverage of women’s sport,” said Cliona O’Leary, Director of Corporate Affairs, Marketing and Communications at Sport Ireland, who supported the programme creation during her time on the OFI Gender Equality Commission.
“Our goal is to make a long-term impact on how sport is reported in Ireland.”
“In 2018, UNESCO reported that women’s sport receives approximately 4% of all sports coverage globally. While there have been key events and short periods where the coverage of women’s sport events increases, there is a lack of accurate data in Ireland because currently there is no national mechanism for gathering it. Outside of major events, there is significantly less coverage of women’s sport in comparison to men’s across all media. This pilot programme aims to bring about change by targeting the media leaders of the future.”
The OFI Gender Equality Commission was brought to life in 2021 and has Lochlann Walsh, Lisa Fallon, Bernard Dunne, Deirdre Carbery and Rob Hartnett with a replacement to be appointed for the outgoing Cliona O’Leary.