Women Are Still Seriously Underrepresented In Sports Leadership Gigs

As the opening ceremonies in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics takes place on Friday evening in Rio’s Maracan Stadium, we will witness a sea of athletically-charged women who have come so far as world class competitors, sports administrators, coaches and influential committee members.

The performances you are sure to see over the next few weeks — delivered by women as well-rounded and intelligent as they are athletic — will inspire you. But Dr. Richard Lapchick’s most recent study on diversity in sports reveals that when it comes to leading international federations and high-ranking committees, as is far too often the case, women are woefully underrepresented. 

For the first time ever Dr. Lapchick and T.I.D.E.S. (The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport) has released the International Sports Report Card on Women in Leadership Roles. In addition to the major sports, it covers international sports federations that are affiliated with the International Olympic Committee, national federations connected to each International Federation, the International Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic Committee. 

While the International Olympic Committee claims to support the promotion of women and girls at all levels of sport, women are still seriously underrepresented in the most influential positions in international sports,” said Dr. Lapchick.”It is unacceptable that only 5.7 percent of International Federation presidents, 12.2 percent of vice presidents, and 13.1 percent of executive committee members are women. In the IOC itself, 24.4 percent of members are women.”

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                                   (Photo Credit: japantimes.com)

“While this is higher than the IFs, the IOC must set a higher standard for the International Federations to follow. The United States Olympic Committee comes closest to showing a commitment to gender equality with women representing 31 percent of governance roles. Even so, when compared to data from previous TIDES reports, that is less than the percentage of women in professional roles in the league offices of the NBA, MLB, MLS, the WNBA and at the NCAA headquarters.

Image title( Kim Ng was the youngest Assistant GM at 29, when she was hired by the Yankees in 1998)

The following is a list of sports federations with at least one president; International Biathlon Union, International Skating Federation, World Rowing Federation, International Sailing Federation, International Tennis Federation, World Archery Federation, International Cycling Union, International Fencing Federation, International Gymnastics Federation, International Triathlon Union, International Table Tennis Federation, International Volleyball Federation, United World Wrestling and Badminton World Federation.

The Report Card gave the IOC a D+ and the International Federations received an F. 

Only 12 of the 113 presidents of regional zone confederations were women. The International Ice Hockey Federation had the poorest representation of all federations with zero percent while the Federation of International Football fared only slight better with 1.5 percent.

This sobering and sad talley in no way reflects the ever increasing percentage of women participating in the Olympics nor the pool of qualified potential women candidates in the United States alone. Among the Gender Report Card’s recommendations is for 50 percent participation in the Olympic Games.

That would be a good start. 

To see the full report log onto www.tidesport.com

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