Women and your Club
When asked, approximately 13 million women in England say they would like to participate in more sport and physical activity.
However, despite women and girls’ interest and desire to get more involved in sport, at the moment 1.5 million more males over the age of 16 participate at least once a week in sport than females.
So, what’s stopping these women from taking part? What can your club do to attract more female participants and make sure they keep coming back?
In order to attract and retain female participants at your club, it’s important to recognise that women often experience different motivations and barriers to men when it comes to taking part in sport. Being able to understand these differences and making small, practical changes to your club’s offer and approach can have a big impact in welcoming women and girls.
Explore these three areas in more detail below:
Each woman is unique and will have her own reasons for wanting to join in. But generally speaking, Women in Sport’s Research, "Understanding Women's Lives" has identified six broad values that women prioritise and look for in all aspects of life:
- Looking good
- Feeling good
- Having fun
- Developing skills
- Nurturing friends and family
- Achieving goals
If your club is able to meet these values through your training sessions, social events and/or volunteering opportunities, you are more likely to encourage women to join and continue being part of your club.
For more information about these motivations and how your club can meet these, log-in to access our Creating a Welcoming Club for Women and Girls interactive guide.
As well as having different motivations, each woman will have her own story to tell if there’s something stopping her from taking part in sport. Barriers can be broken down into:
- Practical barriers which might prevent a woman coming to your club, for example:
- Timing or frequency of sessions
- Logistics such as location, transport, childcare options
- Lack of information about the club or training times
- Personal barriers which might prevent a woman coming to your club, for example:
- Lack of confidence in ability
- Worries about appearance when working out
- Social confidence joining a new group and not fitting in
- Fear of being judged
It’s possible to overcome many of these barriers by making simple changes to your communications, training sessions and making sure your club’s culture is welcoming and inclusive for newcomers and longstanding members alike. Find out more with our Creating a Welcoming Club for Women and Girls interactive guide.
A good way to start understanding which barriers might be affecting your club, is to survey your current members. Ask them what they enjoy about the club and what they think could be improved. Visit our Understanding Your Members section for more information about why and how you can do this.
There are many simple changes you can make throughout a woman’s journey from newcomer to becoming a committed club member. Below we have a few suggestions, but you will find more in our Creating a Welcoming Club for Women and Girls interactive guide.
I’m thinking about trying a session...
- For many new joiners the prospect of turning up at a training session can be very intimidating. One of the main fears for new participants is that they won’t be of a good enough standard. If your club is open to all abilities, make sure this is clearly communicated in your marketing materials, website or social media platforms.
- Follow the Attracting Attention Guide from Sport England for specific tips on tailoring your communication to women.
I’ve turned up for my first session, I’m nervous but also excited…
- Making sure you meet and greet newcomers as they try out the club for the first time is vital in reassuring them and giving the club a warm and welcoming impression.
- Running a regular female-specific session can be a great way to relieve the worry that a woman may be judged on her appearance or ability. However this might not always be possible, or what your members want. So you could instead try adapting the format of your session so that it’s a mix of warm-up games (for fun), coaching (to improve skills) and breaks (for the chance to socialise). This means you have more of a chance of meeting the different values women may have.
- For more tips on how to make sure your training sessions are inclusive and supportive of women, check out Sport England’s guide to Running your Sessions.
I’ve just finished my first session. I enjoyed it but I don’t know if I’ll go back…
- Follow up with any newcomers to congratulate them on their first session. A quick text message or e-mail to inform them of the next session and to say that you’re looking forward to seeing them there could make a massive difference for someone who is still apprehensive about committing to the club.
- Inviting your new female members to join an online forum, Whatsapp group or pairing them up with a more experienced club member is a great way to keep them engaged with the club after the session has ended, hopefully encouraging them to come back again.
- For more top tips on keeping women engaged, see Sport England’s Keep Them Coming Back Guide.