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Women in Sailing Strategic Review

When the World Sailing Trust (WST) launched this Review, they understood anecdotally and through observation that there are fewer women and girls in sailing than men and boys, and that discrimination exists. However, they couldn’t find any robust global research or analysis on which to base work in this space.

They therefore started by launching an international survey, inviting men and women from across the sport to share their views. The survey was run by Qualtrix and supported by SAP, and offered in five languages – English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese.

The Survey received over 4,500 responses from 75 countries, from people aged 11-83 and with roles and experience across the sport – dinghies and keelboats sailing on and offshore, representatives from MNAs* and Class Associations, and race officials, umpires and event organisers.

To supplement the survey, WST undertook nearly 40 1:1 interviews and also looked to other international sports to learn from our colleagues and peers in Badminton, Golf, Cycling, Rowing, Rugby League and Union and Football.

This research formed a base in which to develop a series of recommendations and initiatives to really address the issue of gender balance in sailing.

Their survey respondents told us that 80% of female respondents and 56% of male respondents believe that gender balance is an issue in sailing. This belief intensifies with age and exists across the world – they found no real geographical variations. Respondents told them about a number of key trends:

·         Issues around a lack of female participation causing and demonstrating discrimination

·         A lack of support for women and girls

·         A lack of representation

·         Poor perceptions about women in sailing

·         Issues around the politics of racing.

Respondents also shared their experiences of discrimination: 59% of female respondents and 14% of men say they have experienced discrimination. WST were told about experiences of isolation and harassment, being treated as less competent and experiencing slights on board, a lack of opportunities for women and girls, being stereotyped by gender and receiving less support than male counterparts.

Their report brings together these findings, supplemented by our discussions and interviews with individuals across sailing and sport more widely, and suggests a number of key recommendations to take forward. Making these changes will need us all to come together: World Sailing Trust, World Sailing, and partners around the world.

What is clear is that levelling the playing field for women and girls, and increasing their participation in sailing, will require all of us to make the changes we can. The report is published with a brief Starter Toolkit with prompts, suggestions and ideas – we can all play a part in this, and we invite you to consider what you can do now.

Download the full report here (8mb pdf file)

*Member National Authorities: country members of World Sailing.


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