Dr Katie Dray discuss the lack of women in coaching on International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day offers a good opportunity to reflect on the progress of women in all areas, not least in the male dominated arena of the sports field.  It might be of little surprise to observe that in addition to dominating the play on the field, they also rule the dugout.

Recent Government statistics suggest only 30% of coaches in the UK are female and when we look at qualified coaches, this drops to around 17%.

When it comes to inspiring our young women to take part the sport and physical activity that we know is so beneficial for their health, it’s perhaps fair to say as a nation we are found to be a little wanting.

As with many complex gender issues in society, there are no easy answers to increasing the supply of female coaches. Commonly cited barriers in research suggest the unsociable hours, time and cost demands are difficult to juggle around primary caregiving responsibilities.

These logistical barriers are often compounded, particularly are higher levels of performance sport, by male dominated cultures where assumptions about confidence, competence, and sexuality continue to marginalise females and limit their progression. And that’s all before we address the pay gap.

To begin to address some of these issues, Canterbury Christ Church University is a proud supporter of Project 500; More Women, Better Coaching, a project based in the South East designed at its inception to help and support at least 500 female coaches locally to get into and stay within coaching. To date the project has supported over 600 female coaches.

Our most recent research work will help to identify the role social media has to play in helping to support these coaches and provide development opportunities to this all important workforce.

If you want to become a coach or find out more about Project 500 visit www.facebook/project500uk or tweet @femalecoaches

Dr Katie Dray is Senior Lecturer in Sport Coaching Science in the School of Human and Life Sciences.