Many thanks to Tasha Jonas, Hilary Lissenden and Heather Smith who spoke at our last meeting focusing on women in boxing. It was our best attended meeting yet and we covered some really important issues surrounding female representation and participation in boxing and sport more generally.
- Boxing has traditionally been seen as very male focused and male dominated – a sport that isn’t necessarily for women. However, this notion is slowly changing and there is momentum behind various campaigns – such as This Girl Can – to try and shift these attitudes.
- Boxing encourages the development of a variety of “soft skills”– focus, drive, confidence, resilience. These are the positive stories that can to be told to help bring more people into the sport.
- Nationwide, there is a stark gap between male and females participating in sport once a week – around a 1.5m difference.
- This problem is deep-rooted in our society: research has shown that gendered attitudes towards sport are formed at ages of seven to eight years old.
- For adult women, fear of judgement is a significant barrier to participation: a fear of not knowing what you are doing, not having the right gear, not knowing the rules, not fitting in.
- Campaigns like This Girl Can aim to normalise the idea of women getting active and playing sport to show that all the things women worry about are completely normal.
- Aside from issues around participation in the sport, boxing also suffers from a lack of female representation in its underlying structures – for example, there is a real lack of female coaches and female officials. This is something that can be remedied through better diversity training and the introduction of positive action initiatives.
- Role models and mentors are incredibly important in paving the way for more young women to enter into sports such as boxing.
- Ultimately, boxing needs to take more responsibility to introduce formal structures that will provide a pathway for girls and women to participate in the sport, and for them to feel supported as they do so.
More details of our next meeting will be released soon.