It's important to recognise that women have different barriers and motivations when it comes to taking part in sports.

It’s important to understand the type of obstacles some women may face so that you can try to overcome them. Many of these barriers fit into one of two categories – practical or personal.

Practical barriers include:

  • Timing or frequency of sessions.
  • Logistics such as location, transport, childcare options.
  • Lack of information about the club/organisation or training/session times.

Personal barriers include:

  • Lack of confidence in their ability.
  • Worries about their appearance when participating.
  • Social confidence - joining a new group and not fitting in.
  • Fear of being judged.
  • Cultural/religious barriers.

It is possible for clubs/organisations to work with women to overcome many of these issues:

  • Make sure you always greet newcomers when they first visit, to reassure them and create a welcoming first impression. 
  • Simple changes like pairing new members up with existing female members will help women to settle into your club faster. If you can use a buddy system like this, try to assign them quickly so new members feel like they have someone to talk to straight away. 
  • Making sure your club’s internal culture is welcoming and inclusive is vital – check out Club Matters’ infographic on increasing female participation for some extra insight. 
  • Try to encourage female members to get even more out of their experience with your club by volunteering! Volunteering has many benefits and will give your female members more opportunities to shape your club’s offering to suit their needs. 
  • Running a regular female-specific sessions can be a great way to overcome barriers such as the fear of being judged. However, if this isn’t possible, look for alternatives to help women feel comfortable. Try adapting the format of your sessions. Ensure there are breaks for members to socialise!

For more tips on making sure your sessions are inclusive and supportive of women, check out Sport England’s ‘Helping Women and Girls to Get Active’ guide.

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