Visibility and Awareness

How is your sport viewed by the general public? What is your organisational culture? Sport can be a gendered activity which is heavily biased towards men. If your sport is mostly coached and played by men and your marketing reflects this, how can you expect it to appeal to women? Alternatively, maybe your sport is predominantly female but yet it’s still difficult to attract female coaches.

The following information may support how you market coaching to women and actions throughout for you to try.

The Importance of Organisational Culture

Organisational culture and reference to it is mentioned throughout this toolkit. Knowing your organisation and, if necessary, changing its culture and profile is not a short-term fix but recognising where women are under-represented in your organisation is a good starting point for making those changes.

Sports can start this change process by looking within its own sport and questioning its culture. Try using the following questions to explore the culture within your sport.

  • Does the sport proactively welcome women? If so, how?
  • What is the perception of your sport? Is it ‘a sport for men’ or ‘a sport for all’?
  • Are clubs supported and proactive measures in place to make women feel equally as valued in
  • coaching?
  • How many women work in the development of your sport?
  • How many women are in senior management roles and/or on the Board?
  • How is your sport publicised externally? Are images of men playing and coaching in sport
  • predominately used or is it 50/50 female to male imagery?
  • What policies and processes are in place that support and protect coaches? (For example,
  • employment, health, anti-discrimination, anti-harassment /bullying policies)

Visible Coaching Pathway

Throughout this document you will read about how women like to have information. They like to be aware of their options and what to expect before getting involved. It is no different when it comes to the coaching pathway. Most sports will be able to outline the various steps involved as coaches progress along the coaching pathway, however, at times this information can be hidden away on websites and hard to access.

Taking the time to revisit your coaching pathway, editing it to make it visually appealing and promoting it so that it is clear to all coaches can be a valuable exercise. Ensure that images of female coaches are contained in or alongside the pathway so that female coaches can see they are included.

Highlight Role Models

A role model is often described as a person who serves as an example of the values, attitudes and behaviours associated with a role. 

In sport and coaching, people tend to identify most with “someone like me”. It is vital that you not only celebrate and promote your high performance female players and coaches, but also the women who coach at a local community level. Being acknowledged by your sport and promoted as a role model is very powerful. A role model is likely to stay in coaching if they feel their coaching is valued.

Coaches are accessible role models to sports participants. They motivate people to play sport, be active and keep coming back. The latest report from Women’s Sport Foundation, ‘Coaching through a Gender Lens: Maximizing Girls Play and Potential’ found that girls with female coaches were more likely to say their coaches were, positive role models, good listeners and people the girls could count on. (N. Zarrett, C. Cooky, & P.T Veliz, 2019)

Use your Existing Females  Coaches as Role Models

Online content is extremely popular, convenient and accessible. Promote women as coaches in your sport to create role models and inspire other women and girls to start coaching. Use active women coaches (from intro to experienced level) and get them to explain what coaching involves. What they enjoy about coaching and why they are involved. Interviews and quotes from these coaches can help encourage others to get involved. Use images and quotes from existing female coaches on all marketing and promotional material. 

Case Studies or Profiling 

Develop case studies to tell a story and get a message across in a way that people can identify with. Use pictures of the female coach and use her story to help create an emotional link with the reader, with such content as:

  • How did she get into coaching?
  • Who does she coach/has she coached?
  • Why does she coach?
  • What is the best part of coaching for her?
  • Did she overcome any challenges in becoming a coach or developing as a coach?

Use of Images as a Marketing Tool

Images can be very powerful so ensure any information, adverts and articles reflect the women you are aiming to recruit. Look at the images you currently use. What message might they send to women? Do they convey a sense of welcome?

Spending time and budget to build up a bank of positive images of women coaching and participating could pay dividends in the long term and help your sport market itself as one that welcomes and values women in all aspects of your sport.

Chapter 2: Recruitment Suggested Actions

  • Set up a Women in Coaching page on your sports website to tell stories and promote female coaches.

  • Use the questions proposed above to examine the culture of your sport. This is an exercise that your Women in Coaching Working Group (if set up) might complete

  • Promote female coaches in your sport to create role models and inspire others to coach. E.g. through short interviews and videos.

  • Utilise existing promotional opportunities by ensuring gender balance (i.e. on podcasts, interviews, on social media/website) so that women are highlighted

  • Add images of female coaches to all coaching resources and all promotional material

  • Develop club guidelines for recruiting female coaches using information in this toolkit to guide and advise clubs.

  • Ensure your sport has a visible Coaching Pathway graphic that visually shows females on it so that it is explicit that female coaches are welcome in your sport

View your action list