Research on the glass ceiling in football shows that women hold 10% of executive leadership positions in football, and that senior female coaches are nearly absent in women’s clubs. For women of colour, there are even more barriers to advancement.

Promoting gender equity in sport is central to our mission at the European Week of Sport. As Europe’s most popular sport, football is naturally a big draw at Weeks throughout participating countries…which means that making the sport more gender balanced with women of all colours is especially important to us.

If you want to boost the confidence of teenage girls, get them to play football. That’s the big takeaway from new research commissioned by UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations and an official partner.

Boosting Girls’ Confidence with Football

Girl footballers reported higher levels of confidence, self-esteem, well-being, and motivation than girls who play no sport at all. Learn more from the #WePlayStrong campaign.  

So, how can we crack the glass ceiling in football?

This was the topic of discussion for activists, policymakers and football stars at a June event in Berlin organised by FARE, an NGO combatting inequality in football.

For panellist Caitlin Fisher, it comes down to ‘visibility, voice and value’. As a former professional player in the United States, Brazil and Sweden, she believes we should all be working towards this trifecta.

This means increasing the presence of female athletes in public life, amplifying their voices, and demonstrating their value.

This message resonated with Paola Ottonello of the European Commission’s Sport Unit. ‘If the governance of sport organisations becomes more gender balanced, it should kick-start further change’.

Panellists agreed that everyone has a role to play, and at every level. ‘We’ve got to look top-down at the policies, structures, and statutes. And bottom-up at the deeper culture of teams and organisations’, said Fisher. Introducing gender quotas or targets were among the measures discussed to increase female leadership.

Activist, Shireen Ahmed reminded panellists that equity in football is a global problem. Outside of Europe, ‘women not only must train to be professional athletes, but pay out of pocket to do it’. This pay gap discourages countless women and girls from pursuing their dream of becoming professional footballers.

As we work towards The Week this September, we encourage you to use the insights from this panel to help make football more gender balanced with women of all colours at your events. Together, let’s get women and girls to #BeActive with football and put more cracks in that stubborn glass ceiling.

Watch a recording of the panels on Facebook.

 

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