Media Releases

U of T report reveals ongoing gender imbalance in varsity sport

January 13, 2014

Experts find Canadian universities offer men the majority of opportunities

TORONTO, ON — Researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to have released the sec­ond in a series of reports, the most com­pre­hen­sive analy­sis to date, of gen­der equi­ty in Canada’s interuni­ver­si­ty sport sys­tem, find­ing that the coun­try has actu­al­ly tak­en a mar­gin­al step back­wards since the first report was released in 2011.

The report uncov­ered that sports and ele­ments of sports lead­er­ship at CIS uni­ver­si­ties are less equi­table than two years ago, with the notable excep­tion of an increase in the num­ber of women ath­let­ics direc­tors.

Ath­lete par­tic­i­pa­tion data were ana­lyzed based not only on the num­ber of oppor­tu­ni­ties across all Cana­di­an uni­ver­si­ties, but on the gen­der split in the stu­dent body. Researchers found that although 56 per cent of post-sec­ondary stu­dents are female, male ath­letes make up 57 per cent of var­si­ty ath­letes (up one per­cent­age since 2011).

There has been some progress in lead­er­ship equi­ty since 2011 when women made up only 17 per cent of ath­let­ic direc­tors. Today, almost one in four uni­ver­si­ty ath­let­ic direc­tors are women. Yet, there are now sev­en few­er women head coach­es, drop­ping their rep­re­sen­ta­tion from 19 per cent to 17 per cent of all head coach­es. More men are now also coach­ing women’s teams, up two per cent to 68 from two years ago.

“Great strides have been made in the last 30 years in terms of female par­tic­i­pa­tion in interuni­ver­si­ty sport, but the progress toward equi­ty appears to have stalled in the major­i­ty of cas­es,” says Pro­fes­sor Peter Don­nel­ly, direc­tor of U of T’s Cen­tre for Sport Pol­i­cy Stud­ies and one of the lead authors of the report.

Pro­fes­sor Bruce Kidd, a long-time inter­na­tion­al advo­cate for equi­ty in sport, was a co-inves­ti­ga­tor on the project, along with PhD can­di­date Mark Nor­man. “Cana­di­an uni­ver­si­ties should be set­ting the bar in terms of equi­ty, not scram­bling to keep up,” says Nor­man. “Women deserve oppor­tu­ni­ties pro­por­tion­ate to their par­tic­i­pa­tion in uni­ver­si­ty – and they also need to be bet­ter men­tored and pre­pared to take on lead­er­ship roles down the road.”

The study’s authors are task­ing Cana­di­an Interuni­ver­si­ty Sport and its four region­al coun­ter­parts with three chal­lenges: to revamp their gen­der equi­ty poli­cies based on these results, to cre­ate an imme­di­ate 50 per cent tar­get towards pro­por­tion­al female par­tic­i­pa­tion, and to devel­op a plan for improv­ing lead­er­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties for women in coach­ing and senior admin­is­tra­tion.

Online link to full report:—2013.pdf?sfvrsn=2


For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:

Prof. Peter Don­nel­ly
Direc­tor, Cen­tre for Sport Pol­i­cy Stud­ies
Fac­ul­ty of Kine­si­ol­o­gy & Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion
Tel: 416.946.5071

Valerie Ian­covich
Act­ing Direc­tor, PR & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
Fac­ul­ty of Kine­si­ol­o­gy & Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: 416.946.3713