Approximately 13 million women in England say they would like to participate more in sport and physical activity. However, there are many personal, practical and logistical barriers preventing these women from getting involved.

Having the motivation and desire to participate in sport or join a club is not always enough. ‘Women in Sport’ has identified that 63% of women do not feel confident enough to approach a sports club and that there are many barriers preventing newcomers from taking that first step.

We want to support BSAC clubs to help women overcome some of these barriers. To do that, first we need to understand them.

Before we start it must be said that, of course, one size does not fit all. Women and girls will vary both between themselves - in terms of attitudes and behaviours – and within themselves as they age and pass through different life stages. However, here we pull out key learnings that can be applied to most women.

Barriers for women

One of the biggest personal barriers to approaching sports clubs, particularly affecting women, is the fear of judgement.

Insight from Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign highlights three main ways that women may feel judged when taking part in sport. These are based on their:

  • Appearances “I am worried about being judged by my appearance”
  • Ability “I am worried about being judged by my ability”
  • Priorities “I am worried about being judged for not prioritising my family, friends or other important things when exercising”

Clubs need to be mindful of these and encourage all your members to be non-judgemental. It’s easy for existing members to forget how nerve-wracking and intimidating it can be for a newcomer to join.

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