Research Report: Good Sports - Engaging Female Volunteers - Women In Sport

Research Report: Good Sports – Engaging Female Volunteers

Published 2017

“How dare they say that women can’t do this?! I think that definitely made me a lot more determined to get involved and do things”.  Research participant

Two teenage girls in high vis vests volunteering at parkrun

Executive Summary

This research focuses on gender discrimination within sports volunteering and sets out best practice solutions to counter this disparity.

Many people choose to volunteer in sport, and all sports clubs rely heavily on their volunteers to run. However, there is a large imbalance of female to male volunteers within the sports sector, with men being twice as likely to volunteer in sport than women.

Report Contents:

  • Gender discrimination and stereotyping.
  • Motivations for volunteering.
  • Flexible and inclusive volunteering.
  • Recommendations.


  • Men are twice as likely to volunteer in sport as women.
  • Men are more likely to take on leadership volunteering roles while women are more likely to volunteer in ‘support’ and ‘behind the scenes’ roles.
  • Barriers include a lack of confidence, gender discrimination and a lack of visible role models.
  • Different motivations: Men are motivated by their interest in sport and ‘perks’ associated with volunteering, whereas women are motivated to develop their career, build social networks and to support their children.
  • Women value flexible volunteering that can fit around their lives.


  • Find out the motivations and needs of the female volunteers and how these differ from men; then provide training for staff and volunteers to meet these needs.
  • Ensure procedures for challenging gender discrimination and stereotyping are clear within your organisation and that volunteers have access to these procedures.
  • Make volunteering a social experience – this matters the most to women.
  • Look at new ways of working, including; changing meeting times to suit people with families, sharing roles, and considering shorter term volunteer roles to support parents.
  • Introduce changes to make volunteering roles ‘family friendly’ such as opportunities for parents to volunteer and spend time with their children simultaneously.
  • Avoid gender stereotypes in your communications – showcase both men and women across all volunteer roles.



  1. UK Civil Society Almanac website
  2. Department for Culture, Media and Sport. (2016). Taking Part – Statistical Release. 2015/16 Quarter 4 report.
  3. Paine, A.E., McKay, S & Moro, D. (2012). Does Volunteering improve employability? Evidence of the British household panel survey. Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham.
  4. Sport England: New strategy for tackling inactivity. (2016). 

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