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Women and their role in sport

Do you know that women participate less in sport than men? Often this gap starts from a young age. According to the Millennium Cohort Study*  if we look at age 7 to 8th, only 38 % of the girls participate in sport compared to 63% for the boys. Unfortunately, this trend persists through old age. But why do women skip physical activities, and how can we (and should) change that?


If you ask a girl or a woman why she would not engage in forms of physical activities, likely the answer is fear—the fear of what others will think and what others will say. Women are often judged based on their appearance, gender abilities, “softness,” and life choices. We still live in a stigma where a woman is expected to dedicate time to her family and close ones and spend less time on herself. If we don’t, it turns out there is something wrong with us for taking a little time for self-care.


Moreover, did you know that roughly 50 years ago, women were not even allowed to do a marathon because they were not strong enough to endure it? In the 1930s, the International Olympic Committee did not allow women to run more than 200m for the same reasons. So the first time women were allowed to run a marathon in the Olympics took 50 years, and LA hosted the first Olympic marathon for women in 1984. 

Women in sport, particularly running, had a long way to achieve what we have today.


Another shocking fact to think about is that only tiny percentages of the coaches in sports are women even today. For example, according to the “International Women’s Day: Why there are few female coaches in elite sport”*, only 11% of the coaches of the last four Olympic Games are women. This means that women coaches rarely reach elite sports due to women’s history in the sport.


And what about the way we look while we do sport? Have you noticed that people rarely pay attention to what a man who runs wear? But this is definitely not the case if you are a woman. Instead, women often receive a deep look and feel analysed by people they pass while jogging. If you are a woman, you know what I mean. It’s like we are still doing something wrong, unusual. 


We need to rewrite history; we need to continue to work hard and show that women have an equal role in the sport.


A way to do that is to normalise women participating in any form of physical activity. This means that it is up to us to show up and prove we belong. We don’t need to feel uncomfortable doing any sport. We are stronger than we think, and we can endure as much as men can. Just think about the women running marathons, and ultra distances such as 100 miles, proving that women may have a weaker look than men, but we have a character build to do as much, regardless of our body power. It’s all about mental strength.


We should not feel ashamed of the way we look while we train. Regardless of our body shape and size, we are there to work hard and get better. Remember that there are always people who will like you or not, regardless of how you look. What is important is that you are doing something that will make you stronger- not only on the outside but also on the inside. You should only feel proud of that, and it should drive you to continue getting better.


Being a woman means we operate and think differently than a man. We are more emotional and often more expressive, but there is nothing wrong with that. Moreover, we are all motivated by various factors on a personal level. Sometimes, to get someone to do something, regardless of gender, we need to show emotions and empathy. Women naturally do so, and having a woman’s coach might be the best fit for you to become exceptional at your sport. Moreover, to keep women in sport, we need more women coaches. And there are so many great women’s coaches out there proving that we have our equal spot, creating World and Olympic champions, or even just expanding girls’ participation in sports. 


Sport is for everyone. Don’t be scared of your weakness; it might turn out is your ultimate power to be a woman.


Citation : 

Griffiths LJ, Cortina-Borja M, Sera F, et al

How active are our children? Findings from the Millennium Cohort Study

BMJ Open 2013;3:e002893. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002893) 

How active are our children? Findings from the Millennium Cohort Study 

Why Germany has few female coaches in top sport


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Militsa Mircheva

Militsa Mircheva

Long-distance Olympic runner & national records holder.

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