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My research into the conditions for women working in the Australian sporting sector began in 2017 out of a curiosity to go beyond my experiences and observations and to understand the reality for women working in the sporting sector.

With my background as a corporate executive and sporting director and experience as a gender diversity expert, I thought I would not be surprised by the data. On the contrary, I was staggered—the statistics relating to gender inequality in the Australian sporting sector were much worse than I had anticipated.

I was astounded by the gaps in sheer numbers and lack of parity, especially in pay. And so, I decided to go beyond the existing data and conduct my own research, which shed light on the endemic issues, barriers and systematic discrimination faced by women in the sporting sector.

For example, 70% of women in sports who responded to our surveys believed their gender had caused them to miss out on a salary increase, promotion, or chance to get ahead.

Yet, while women working in the sporting sector tell me they feel disadvantaged by their gender when advancing their careers in the sporting sector, they persist! Why?

  1. Because they are committed to doing challenging and inspiring work
  2. Because they want to make a difference in the world, and they understand that sport can achieve this
  3. Because they are committed to helping their sporting organisation excel and grow

Leaders in the sporting sector generally have good intent and a desire to make a change for the better with regard to women, inclusion and diversity. However, the maturity of the sporting sector is low relative to other sectors when it comes to initiating and driving enduring strategies and positive change for women in leadership.

That is why my research and this podcast exist. So that sporting leaders have a blueprint for action that is grounded in evidence and will the means to address the significant underrepresentation of women in leadership — on and off the field — in the Australian sporting sector.

I hope you both enjoy listening to the episodes and use them as a tool in your gender equality toolkit for your workplace - whether it's in sports or not!

You can read my first two research reports by clicking the links below:

Moving Gender Diversity from Conversation to Action

Tapping into Progressive Attitudes

Mar 20, 2022

About Shelley Ware:

Shelley Ware is a media personality, professional speaker, educator and consultant. Shelley hosts her own Facebook show Ware2Now? and appears regularly on Facebook show Broad Radio. She is also a member of the Outer Sanctum podcast and writer for the Koori Mail.   

Shelley is well known for her part in Marngrook, a ground-breaking football program, and as host of webshow Colour of Your Jumper. In 2019, Shelley was named Fujitsu General Football Woman of the Year.  

Shelley is also a teacher, hosting workshops on Aboriginal history, culture and art in primary and secondary schools around Australia. She also works as a consultant, teaching and upskilling leaders and educators in Aboriginal history and culture. Shelley is passionate about embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture in classrooms and the national curriculum.  

Call to Action

Shelley calls for increasing diversity in media so that our televisions reflect the diversity of our streets. She says leaders must reflect on their own bias and actively seek the truth by uncovering the histories and lived experiences of women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. By doing so, they may overcome stereotypes and be encouraged to generate more opportunity for diverse people.   

Shelley also encourages young women to hone their craft, put themselves out there and find a good mentor. And to mentors, she says, give honest and actionable advice to women and women of colour coming up the ranks. 

About the Podcast

The need to tell the stories of women in sport and to create a clarion call to action to close the gender gaps in sport has never been stronger. The Advancing Women in Sport podcast goes beyond the statistics about women in sport so that all of us can become more aware of women’s lived experience n sport. We’re uncovering the stories beneath the stats….

In this first season, you will be able to hear the stories of women at different career and life stages, from different sporting disciplines and sectors within the very large sports industry about their lived experience in the sporting sector.

The women interviewed are athletes, coaches, administrators, broadcasters, directors and more. They identify in many ways and represent the many intersectional communities that sport serves. You can tune in via all the usual podcast services or at the podcast website.