27 September 2023

Level playing field: How the AIS plans more women leaders in sport

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Lachlan Roberts* says the AIS is launching a talent program to address the gross under-representation of women in Australian sport leadership.

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has launched a new talent program with Sport Australia to address what Sport Australia Chief, Kate Palmer labelled a “gross under-representation” of women in high-performance roles and executive positions in sport.

Sport Australia has revealed staggering numbers that show only 15 per cent of accredited coaches in Australia’s high-performance system are women, which Ms Palmer said was unacceptable and required a systemic change immediately.

She believes the current high-performance environment is very masculine and said Sport Australia will address this bias towards masculinity.

“The rise in profile of women’s professional leagues has been fantastic for the progress of female athletes, but that hasn’t translated into the same opportunities for female coaches and leaders,” Ms Palmer said.

“We need to address any systemic biases preventing females taking up these opportunities.”

“The new AIS talent program has been created to specifically address what remains a gross under-representation of women in high-performance coaching and executive positions.”

According to Sport Australia, women represent only 22 per cent of board chairs and just 13 per cent of CEOs across more than 60 national sporting organisations that are funded by them and the AIS.

Only 15 per cent of coaches across Australia’s high-performance system are female, while only 12 per cent of accredited coaches at the 2012 London Olympics were female.

Ms Palmer said the number of Australian female Olympic coaches was on a declining trend after the percentage dropped to a meagre nine at the 2016 Rio Olympics, with only 15 women in the 160 accredited coach category.

“These statistics are not acceptable and we need to initiate systemic change now,” she said.

“The AIS talent program will be designed to deliver transformational skills for women in sport who are ready to progress to these leadership positions.”

“It will help identify, develop, retain and progress talent that can challenge the status quo and increase diversity in sport.”

Applications for the AIS’s new talent program for female sport executives and high-performance coaches are now open, with positions available for 16 executives and 16 high-performance coaches.

The 12-month program will be fully funded by the AIS and Office for Women.

* Lachlan Roberts is a Canberra journalist.

This article first appeared at the-riotact.com.

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