The University of Sheffield held its annual This Girl Can week, with women’s sports teams and athletes from across the University being recognized for their amazing contributions to our sporting society. 

A 2018 study by Women in Sport revealed that 1.5 million more men play sport than women each week.

Additionally, 40 per cent of women in the sport industry face gender discrimination while only 8% of girls are meeting recommended exercise guidelines. 

Clearly, statistics such as these show there is still a great amount of inequality within the sporting community that needs to be abridged. 

Occasions like This Girl Can aim to tackle this gender disparity while highlighting women’s sports.

Through putting on a series of events and inclusive sport sessions, the week aims to raise the profile and engagement of female participation in sport as well as bringing to light the discriminations that still exist in the industry.

Speaking about the importance of This Girl Can, Sport Officer Britt Bowles said: “Sports officers at Sheffield have done an amazing job at taking part in it and making it a highlight of the year. 

“This year has been an incredible year of sport for women, with the football and netball World Cups this summer really showcasing some fantastic female athletes. 

“However, we still have a long way to go until equality in sport for women is reached and this campaign is a great way to motivate and empower women to get involved in sport at any level.

“The fact that Sheffield gets involved in a campaign such as this and that it is a success every year shows that we are doing something to tackle the problems. I still think we can do better, such as having more female sports as the finishing fixture at Varsity. 

“The media attention and sponsorship deals that female sport is beginning to attract, is a positive step forward from where we once were. 

“Again, we are far from close to being equal to male sports but there is hope for the future when looking at how far we have come in the last few decades.”

Along with many other activities that took place throughout the week, a panel containing several sport figures from the Uni discussed the importance of gender equality in sport and their own personal experiences. 

Speaking about the barriers they’ve faced in the male-dominated industry, three time GB swimmer and silver medalist at the junior European games, Amber Keegan said: “Swimming is a pretty equal sport in terms of participants, but if you look at the coaching staff, I don’t think it’s even 25 per cent females. In my almost 15 years in the sport, I think I’ve only had one female coach.

“That’s all well and good, guys can coach, girls can coach but especially when we started to talk about female especially in the teenage years, and I know some absolutely outstanding coaches for this, there is only so much you can do to reassure someone personally when it comes to self-confidence and body issues.

“Even though we have some of the best male coaches here in Sheffield and in identifying these issues and helping girls overcome that, it’s still not quite the same when it’s male who may have experienced these issues but it isn’t quite as relatable to you when you’re a young teenage girl.” 

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