WHERE ARE sport's female leaders? This is a question the nation's most decorated basketballer Lauren Jackson was asking when embarking on an Australian Institute of Sport program aiming to boost women's leadership in sport.
We do not have the answer in Ballarat but we too, have made a promising start to change this at the grassroots and to get more women at the table when it comes to Ballarat sport.
City of Ballarat-led Active Women's Leadership Network launched this week as a safe forum for women to find support in each other and start tackling the key barriers preventing more women to get involved in our games. A big part of this is promoting female leaders in our games.
One of the big issues in the spotlight is how to make sure clubs are achieving gender equity and creating opportunities without being tokenistic? If we are to be truly about equality, we need to be ensuring women from different cultures and socio-economic demographics come into play. Sames goes for bridging the gap in disability.
This is a wicked problem.
Could a solution simply lie in given women a chance?
Three-time Olympic swimming gold medallist Petria Thomas is undertaking the same AIS course as Jackson this year. Thomas is a high-performance manager with Gymnastics Australia and told The Canberra Times there was a gender gap in sporting coaching and administration.
Thomas said such leadership programs, like at the AIS, were ensuring more women have the skills and experience to be the best candidate for the job - and not just because they were female.
Redan Football Netball Club made the bold move late last year to advertise an opportunity for females to put up their hands and join the Lions' senior coaching panel.
Lions president Garry Goyne told The Courier while the door had never been closed to the possibility, at the same it had never been promoted. This was about being blatant in putting an opportunity out there.
There is an undeniable rise in female football in Ballarat. It would seem obvious this would extend to all areas in the game, yet, St Kilda's Peta Searle is the sole female AFLW coach this season. Searle became the first full-time female assistant coach in the AFL when appointed by St Kilda in 2014.
Nine percent of Australia's coaches at the Rio Olympic Games were women.
Lauren Jackson is now head of women in basketball at Basketball Australia. Jackson is working to build the skills to help move women's sport into a new era.
City of Ballarat participation project officer Teagan Kenny said it was important women involved in grassroots sport drive this conversation in our region. While the City is launching a network, its wants women sporting leaders to take the reigns.
Fifty-three women gave voice in the network's opening night. More than 200 females have been surveyed in the City's active women and girls' sports strategy and Kenny knows there are still many more women to reach.
One firm answer the network has already made clear is the need to celebrate each others' achievements more.
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