Since the earliest of time in sports history, women have faced many barriers to getting involved. Having been excluded and restricted from the Olympic Games to the modern-day social ideologies and challenges they encounter today.
It has been a battle of centuries and some issues continue to exist.
The list of barriers begins with low accessibility. There are a lack of recreational opportunities for women. This is a major issue! Finding a league that works with your schedule, ability level, and location can be difficult. This is compounded by the fact that there aren't many leagues around for women to join. Specific sports are also categorized as masculine or feminine based off of social ideologies. Although the existence and use of coed teams has been increasing, it is still not equally as accessible and available as it is for males.
It is also less likely for a woman to join a sports team that may appear unsafe or difficult to commute to - further decreasing her likeliness in participating.
And, women who play more roles in their lifestyle such as mother, wife, etc. may face the challenge of sparing time to join a sports team. They may also be discouraged or feel guilty not dedicating all their time to the responsibilities that each role entails.
The next major barrier that women face is the culture or environment they grow up in.
Throughout sports history, a common problem that women have faced is being considered too masculine by partaking in sports. Some cultures look down upon women who exercise 'excessively' and some discriminate based on stereotypes or ideals.
Some cultures forbade women entirely from sporting activities, especially if it is played in front of males.
Bottom line. Women face some harsh challenges just trying to pick up a ball or maybe a hockey stick. Whatever it may be – it isn’t easy.
There are also high social fears and a severe lack of role models that contribute to the decline in participation from women. This includes the fear of being inadequate in comparison to other players or genders.
Lets put a stop to this!
Although there are some issues that cannot be completely avoided, there can be alternates. It's an ongoing battle, and one that can only be conquered collectively.
Let’s work together to get more women involved in sports.
Be the role model for women in your neighborhood to see. Encourage women surrounding you to spare some time from their responsibilities, to build their confidence, and to challenge these social ideologies. Create a safe environment for women to easily access, commute and play. Ensure that women feel respected and comfortable during all times.
A fear many people have is that they are alone when in fact, many of these fears are commonly shared between individuals.
But one thing is for sure! The physical, mental and social benefits that people gain from playing sports are the same for all genders. We should encourage women participation in sports play so they can reap these benefits!
You can start today by creating your own league, club, or even pick-up game by contacting Javelin Sports. You can also search for and join a team yourself through the Javelin Sports app!
There are also other organizations out there that are specifically working towards solving this problem. Lead Thru Sport is a Toronto based company that helps girls and women get active. The Gist is a for women by women startup that presents sports news. Finally, CAAWS is a nationwide organization that helps women throughout Canada get active.
Spread the encouragement, tweet us at @AppJavelin about your experience to empower more women to start participating!