International Women’s Day in the year of the Olympics: Men are still making all the rules

Latest data shows that men take most of the decisions in sports organisations that affect both women and men athletes. To mark International Women’s Day, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) and the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee are highlighting the hurdles women face in sport with a conference on 7 March in Vilnius.

“The trend we are seeing in sport is similar to other areas of decision-making. The higher up the career ladder you go, the less women you find,’’ says Virginija Langbakk, EIGE’s director.

Lithuania, however, presents a positive example, being one of only two countries in Europe where the national Olympic Committee is led by a woman, former Olympic Champion Daina Gudzinevičiūtė.

Research conducted by EIGE confirms that in national sports federations women are side lined from decision-making. On average, women hold only 14 % of important decision-making positions such as board members, general secretaries and vice-presidents, and only 5 % of presidents are women. There are also big differences across EU Member States. The proportion of women in decision-making in national federations ranges from 3 % in Poland to 43 % in Sweden.

According to a study commissioned by the National Olympic Committee of Lithuania (LTOK) and carried out by “TNS LT”, Lithuanian news portals and TV broadcasters cover women’s sports much less than they do men’s sports. In Lithuanian sports news items online, men are mentioned 4,5 times more often than women. 97% of the televised games show men’s sports.

The research also uncovered that the general public would like to be able to see more women’s sports broadcasts. Even those who are of the opinion that watching men’s sports is more interesting agree that women’s competitions are shown on TV nowhere near often enough.

In celebration of International Women’s Day and in the run up to Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) and the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee in cooperation with the Nordic Embassies and the Nordic Council of Ministers office in Vilnius are hosting a conference on 7 March on “Gender equality and sport: towards a level playing field for women”.

For more information about the conference click here.

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) is an autonomous body of the European Union, established to support and to strengthen the promotion of gender equality and the fight against discrimination based on sex, as well as to raise awareness of gender equality in the EU and the Member States.

The Lithuanian National Olympic Committee (LTOK) is an independent, non-profit, public organisation belonging to the world Olympic movement.