What's up: Gender equality in university sport

What's up: Gender equality in university sport

“When I grew up, women were passive, they sat on the sidelines as guys ran and surfed. But I imagined female role models who were fast, beautiful, strong and self-assured—like today’s women. I did what I could to help move things in this direction.” – said Bobbi Gibb, the first woman who run the Boston Marathon. That time female participants weren’t allowed to compete on it because doctors claimed the female body is not able to finish a marathon.

Things, thanks to the pioneers, has changed a lot since then, however not that many results had been achieved on the field of university sports according to gender equality issues. The European University Sport Association (EUSA) has the intention to makes steps forward to gender equality, because we truly believe that sport has to be a safe and open place for everyone. For this reason EUSA executed a survey regarding to this topic in 2011 with its members and now, in 2016 we decided it to repeat it. EUSA is also an official partner in the SCORE project, aiming to enhance gender equality in coaching.

EUC Rugby 2015

While in the number of participating athletes we can perceive smaller difference, among the officials the gap is really vast. The European Universities Championships 2015 were organized in 19 different sport disciplines, where we welcomed altogether 3867 participants from 40 countries. While the athletes’ participation from the point of view of gender this meant 61% male - 41% female participants, gender distribution of officials is 84% male - 16% female participation. The volunteer’s participation percentage is almost equal: 52% men - 48% women.

International volunteers at the EUSA sports events

Gender equality not just can be perceived in sport but actually sport can be a great tool to fight for gender equality. Many initiative has been released by famous brands, big companies stood up for it, federations and organization started to realize its importance and the benefits of an equally governed world.



Gender equality is one of the founding value of the European Union. The encouragement for gender mainstreaming and women empowerment is fast-growing nowadays, although still have huge gap on the labour-market: women are under-represented in decision-making positions. The situation is the same in sport sector, moreover still a lot of person misunderstand the real aim and objective of these movements with its conceptions.

Teams in Table Tennis

We believe we are on the right track to go and we can organize events in the close future where the number of the female athletes and officials is the same as the male ones and the women can receive as many places in the organizing committees as their male colleagues. Once when women won’t quit from sports because of sexual harassments, society dictated gender roles or lack of access and sponsorship.

Anett Fodor

The author Anett Fodor is a graduate of the Hungarian Sport University and is currently an EVS volunteer in EUSA.

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