The Importance of women in leadership roles in Grassroots Rugby Clubs

June 2, 2017

Over the years, we have seen more and more women take on leadership roles within sport, especially male dominated ones. But what do they bring to the roles they are filling?

In rugby, a sport which was originally top heavy with testosterone, women are tentatively stepping into more prominent roles, and successfully I might add.

So, what credentials are needed to make the grade? It’s not always necessary to have a good understanding of Rugby, although it can obviously be a help in understanding some of the things that get discussed.

Women are naturally strong communicators, and are known for being good negotiators, organisers, and mediators.

We often see women take up admin-based roles within rugby clubs, such as Fixture Secretary, Safeguarding Officer, H&S, and Clubhouse Committee Members.  

But what about the top end roles, like Chairman, Hon Sec, and dare I mention the “P” word…(President!).

A recent study on gender diversity from the Institute of International Economics, revealed the positive correlation between the presence of women in leadership roles.

However, of 68 governing bodies, just under half (33) have less than 30% female non-executive directors, iWhich both rugby league and union fall into. 

There has been a decrease in the number of women getting senior leadership roles, which is worrying to me. In my opinion, large organisations need to widen their focus, address diversity and welcome what these changes can bring.

Not only do women bring a different approach to these roles, they also bring much needed funding, and along with that is public investment.

When we see a strong female within a seldom, male-dominated role - especially within a sport like rugby - we champion her and we invest in that sport more, because we know it will bring more diversity from the public, and thus create more money and funding.

However, at least in some cases, it seems she must do the job twice as well as a male counterpart, and as a result the spotlight will be on her, with certain people looking to scrutinise her actions.

We need to invest more into our female leaders as a nation, to encourage those that have potential, nurture future executives, and then perhaps one day, we won’t be quite so shocked when they do step forward for roles like President and Chair, or being a part of the governing body of a sport like Rugby.

Everyone has his or her unique power – it is our responsibility to find that power and use it to the fullest capacity we can in the service of other people – Toan Lam


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