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Let’s talk about gender equity in triathlon

Gender equity in sport continues to be a topic of huge interest, and while some ground has been made in addressing specific issues over the last decade, there is still a great deal of work to be done to reach equal. 

Triathlon Victoria is committed to a gender-equitable sport, one that is inclusive, empowering and supportive. Over the past 12-months, the association has been working closely with the Victorian Government and its Change Our Game initiative to help provide more opportunities to women and girls in triathlon.

In 2015, an independent inquiry conducted by the Victorian Government into women and girls in sport and recreation highlighted gender inequality in the Victorian sports sector, with women underrepresented in leadership roles and environments that are male-centric and dominated.

The report also highlighted a growing number of women and girls who are keen to showcase their talent and contribute to the sports sector, however, the opportunities to participate and lead were not readily available.

In 2019, Triathlon Victoria made a move to address this disparity. Comprehensive research was undertaken to prepare a gender equity report which found males were over-represented in all sectors of the triathlon workforce: club administration, coaching, officiating and athletes.

Interviews with individuals across all sectors of triathlon highlighted: accessibility, support and creating change as the key barriers that affected female involvement in triathlon. While this is problematic, a more systematic issue is the progression of females into senior positions and the overwhelming concern that triathlon is a male-dominated culture.

Women account for only 27% of all club Presidents but hold 48% of Secretary positions. Workforce data also showed a significant drop in the number of women progressing to senior coaching roles, with women comprising less than 20% of all senior coaching positions at clubs and 25% of senior officiating appointments.

Cultural change also emerged as a key theme throughout the research and a reluctance by some senior club members to engage in meaningful change to support women in triathlon.

What Triathlon Victoria is doing

In response to these findings, Triathlon Victoria has created a Women in Triathlon Working Group who will work closely with the association to implement networking, development and leadership opportunities for women in triathlon.

The Women in Triathlon Working Group meet every six weeks and comprises of the following professionals, who will be reaching out to your club very soon:

Caitlin Honey (Chairperson), General Manager Community Engagement at Athletics Victoria

Mardi Cuthbert, Head of Facilities and Infrastructure at City of Casey

Davina Calhaem, Triathlon Victoria Board Member and Executive Officer Old Xaverians’ Association

Liz Mackevicius, Senior Associate, Melbourne Practice Leader, Partner and Director at SGS Economics and Planning GAICD.

Stephanie Anderson, Community Development and Partnerships Officer at University of Melbourne

Dimity Gannon, Community Health and Wellbeing Manager at Western Bulldogs

Dr. Kirsty Forsdike, Researcher in Women’s Safety in Sport and Lecturer in Management

Donna Petrusma, Business Development and Operations Manager at Pop Education

The projects will include the development and implementation of support structures, including mentoring and networking opportunities, addressing cultural issues through greater communication and access to education, training and leadership development opportunities.

Triathlon Victoria affiliated clubs, squads and members will have access to these opportunities that will support females within their triathlon community.

Current projects in the works

In collaboration with Athletics Victoria, Swimming Victoria and Cycling Victoria, we are working to offer a multisport professional development opportunity for females across all four sports designed to bring women across the disciplines together to network, build leadership, confidence and empower them to take on active leadership roles.

What your club can do

We encourage every triathlon club and squad to be inclusive and work proactively to support, develop and empower women in triathlon by working with us to help change the status quo.

To help our sport work towards an equal gender balance, clubs will soon receive a gender equity self-assessment questionnaire to complete, so we can identify what’s working and the areas that require improvement.

Triathlon Victoria is committed to promoting and providing rewarding opportunities to support the growth of female participation in our sport, and we hope you do too.

Be involved

To learn more about the Women in Triathlon Working Group or to become involved as a mentor, speaker or ambassador of what we are doing, please contact us or visit the Triathlon Victoria website.

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