SheCoaches conference 14th March, English Institute of Sport, Sheffield

A one-day event focusing on how to attract and retain more women into coaching in sport, fitness, PE and physical activity

How do we address the gender bias in sports/fitness coaching for women and girls? Only 18% of sports coaches in the UK are women!

Out of all qualified coaches, women make up only 18% of the coaching workforce. This gender imbalance means we are, once again, only calling on the skills of half the population to coach. Are women worse coaches? Do they lack the confidence to coach either sport of fitness and are we missing empowerment opportunities by not encouraging women to run their own fitness business? Sport & Fitness activities breathes life into our communities and yet we exclude those who often are best placed to support elite athletes, coach girls & other women or set up sports & fitness activity in the local community.

The take-up of Level ONE coach qualification is about 50:50 – but declines rapidly at higher levels. Are women not interested in further qualifications? Are the courses run at the wrong time? Can women really coach men? Why is that? Is it to do with when coaching courses run? Is the training content or approach too male orientated? How can we make coaching courses more accessible for women.

Empowerment through coaching in the community

Encouraging women into communities as coach/teachers (at elite and grassroots level) is a highly cost-effective way of getting more women active in the community. It brings empowerment to the coach/teacher, confidence & motivation to the athletes/players/’students’ and helps women form local, ‘real-life’ networks. It has huge impact on wellness and on down-stream health care costs and quality of life – So why are we ignoring it?

Coaching fitness or sport – what’s the difference?

The fitness sector seems to have been much better at attracting and retaining female coaches. Many self-employed instructors run their own enterprises, either independently or as a franchise. Could women’s team sports learn from that franchise/licencing model and could they work with the fitness sector to encourage women to ‘progress’ to team sports? All raising the chances of women getting more active in the community and developing local cohesion.

What can /should NGBs, Clubs and coaches do?

Community sports clubs and NGBs face a number of challenges (and opportunities) when attracting and retaining female coaches. They need to become more understanding of the needs of girls and women, develop alternative course formats, provide mentoring for female coaches, highlight female role models and consider the learning styles of women

How do we address this gender bias?

If we are serious about developing a more diverse workforce in sport we must, create a culture where women are seen as equal as coaches, teachers and instructors in PE, physical activity and sport. We must improve our understanding of how to break the glass ceiling and make the sector more attractive to female coaches and instructors.

This conference will address the options and opportunities for changing gender bias in UK sport & fitness by presenting solutions, ideas and experiences to grow the network of people interested in attracting more female sports coaches. This event will highlight best practice and provide thoughts, tools and to-dos on how to attract and retain more women into coaching.

Delegates will come from community sports clubs, governing bodies of sport, local authorities, community sports trusts, informal sports providers, community sports enterprises, sports governing bodies, community groups and other community sports providers.

This is not a conference packed with policy presentations. We hope people will leave the event knowing they have heard some great practical ideas and having learnt how to make positive changes of their own.

Topics covered could include:

  • Empowerment through coaching – psychology? Why coach? Who benefits?
  • The landscape for women sport & fitness and the challenges for coaching
  • NGBs – how can they help develop women’s coaching in sport
  • Female Triad Syndrome – how do male coaches cope?
  • Investigating the commercial route to coaching in the social fitness arena – the opportunities to go ‘solo’ – Major player n the franchising sector
  • Men v women as coaches
  • Are female coaches less authoritarian, process-oriented and natural nurturers?
  • Female coaches as role models getting more girls more activeBuilding confidence and making learning more accessible
  • The power of coaching – empowerment, wellbeing, community confidence
  • Coaxing or coaching – what’s the best approach? How does coaching vary from elite to everyday and men’s to women
  • Finding a job in women’s sport coaching
  • Is coaching a ‘retirement route’ for elite athletes?

Get in touch

Whether you have a suggestion for a presentation, want to learn more about the event or register an interest in participating, please contact

Svend Elkjaer, Sports Marketing Network, 5 Station Terrace, Boroughbridge, YO51 9BU, 01423 326 660,

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