On Campus

Good news and bad news for women in varsity sports

Lack of female leaders continues

Photo by kelsey e. on Flickr

Gender equality in Canadian varsity sports is improving, but there are still problems to tackle, shows new research from the University of Toronto’s Centre for Sport Policy Studies.

The good news, according to the report, is that there were almost as many varsity women’s teams (425) as there were varsity men’s teams (431) in 2010-11. The bad news is that there were only 7,815 team roster positions for female athletes—44 per cent of the total—despite the fact they make up 56 per cent of university students.

The truly “disturbing” news, according to the study’s authors, is that women make up less than one-fifth of the senior leadership. Women hold only 19 per cent of head coach jobs and only 17 per cent of athletic directorships.

The study notes that Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) keeps track of some annual statistics, such as the number of scholarships give to women, but doesn’t appear to have reviewed its gender equity policies since 2005.

The study also debunked the myth that the high number of players in football—usually a male-only sport—makes it appear as though there is more gender inequality than there truly is. But even with football removed, male students enjoy proportionally more varsity opportunities in all regions.

The authors recommend that Canadian Interuniversity Sport and the four regional conferences develop plans to increase female participation and develop more female leaders on campus.

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