Project Aims

This project aims to tackle the issues around the gender imbalance in sport in relation to leadership and management roles in the industry which is heavily male dominated. This needs to be redressed if we are to have any impact on increasing female involvement in sport and exercise at any level. Although research documents increases in female participation, women and girls are still underrepresented in leadership positions in all levels of sport, and role stereotyping, gendered organisational cultures and issues of discrimination, contribute to that. Educating the next generation (Generation Z) raising awareness, acknowledging the need for cultural change and developing aspirations of young people to make an impact in this area is what this project is about.

Generation Z

For the purpose of this study, we refer to Generation Z as individuals born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s. A significant aspect of Generation Z is the widespread usage of the Internet from a young age. Members of Generation Z are typically thought of as being comfortable with technology, and interacting on social media websites for a significant portion of their socialising. With this in mind, GETZ will be delivered via a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to facilitate broad dissemination of the project’s intellectual outputs and results.

Objectives

The objective of the “Gender Equality Toolkit for generation Z (GETZ)” project is to develop, deliver and evaluate an innovative educational resource specifically designed to educate Generation Z on the issues relating to gender equality and equal opportunities in sport.

The initiative to develop the GETZ toolkit comes from the continued prevalence of gender inequality in sport and the need to look at this issue from a different perspective, from the perspective of the next generation. Instead of a top down approach, we have designed this project to address the issue from the bottom up. Instead of gender equality being an issue women need to deal with, we have designed this project to engage both genders. Instead of a single agency approach, where one organisation creates one strategy, we have designed this project from a multi-agency perspective with the potential for a European wide roll out.

Equality between women and men is a fundamental principle of the European Union, indeed gender equality is enshrined in Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. More specifically in this context, since the inclusion of an EU sport competence in the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, the issue of gender equality can now be addressed within the specific context of sport. Gender equality in sport receives significant attention in certain member states, with work done at local, regional and European level as well as at the international level of sport and governance. Yet despite concerted efforts, gender equality in sport has not yet been achieved.

According to the ‘Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019’ of the European Commission, “efforts are required of all actors if we are to achieve real equality between women and men in all spheres of life within the EU and elsewhere”; and education and training, gender stereotypes and the reconciliation of work and family life are also covered extensively; decision making is the area addressed the least”. Furthermore, “the Commission has reaffirmed its commitment to continue its work to promote equality between men and women” by focussing on five thematic priority areas, “promoting equality between women and men in decision-making” being one of them. More specifically, these efforts should be complemented with “measures promoting gender balance in political decision-making and public life, including sports”. “Attitudes towards equality are evolving, but today’s younger generation is not immune to gender stereotypes and disparities”.

Sport is traditionally a male domain both on the field and in the boardroom. According to the Special Eurobarometer study 412 “Sport and Physical Activity” from 2014, in the EU, men exercise, play sport or engage in other physical activity more than women, and this disparity is particularly marked in the 15-24 age group. Women are also under represented in coaching roles, leadership and decision-making roles and in the media. In addition, both men and women suffer from gender stereotypes in sport, which affect gender equality and may lead to unequal treatment. According to the expert group on good governance in sport (2016), an integrated approach to equality between women and men in sport can avoid the sexist stereotypes that harm the image of sport and help create a positive social and educational environment for all.

Increasing the number of women on sport boards or on the playing fields has been an important first step towards gender equality in sport. We argue, however that whilst policy can help identify and facilitate quantifiable change it may at times be positioned in a culture unable to facilitate such change. To create an environment for change, employees of both genders need to understand how gender bias plays out in the workplace and as Betzer-Tayar et al., (2015, p.17) discuss, “the journey toward change and gender equality in sport organisations is best started at a young age”. This is why we believe the next step required to facilitate gender equality in sport leadership is through educating and empowering the next generation of sport leaders “Generation Z”.

The GETZ toolkit will consist of a unique set of lesson plans and individual resources specifically designed by the GETZ consortium to bring to life the issue of gender equality in sport in a practical, theoretical and applied way. The amount of resources available in the GETZ toolkit will be the equivalent of 1 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) which equates to more than 18 hours of directed study plus 6 hours of independent study.