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We’re Ready For More Women In Irish Sport

Yesterday we welcomed the news that sporting bodies could lose state funding unless 30% of their board positions are filled by women, according to the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan.

We’re absolutely with the Minister on this one. Ideally this wouldn’t be a problem, but we want women taking up positions in leadership and if that means that there must be financial penalties unless 30% of board members are women, but that the next generation will have icons off the field to aspire to, then so be it.

The Minister of State said boards of sporting organizations will be required to be 30% male, 30% female and 40% either male or female.

The board of directors at the FAI and GAA have no female representatives. In the 137 year history of the IRFU, Mary Quinn is the only woman to be appointed to the committee.

Not all sports bodies have this under-representation. Swim Ireland have 36% female members on their board and Paralympics Ireland have 40%.

Speaking to today’s Irish Examiner, Joan O’Flynn, chief executive of the Camogie Association defended the Minister’s decision, saying that although it is “accepted the situation is not perfect, and women are under-represented and that that’s important and needs to be improved – then what is the way to improve that situation? Quotas are a nudge in that direction and better than patiently waiting into infinity for something to happen. From that point of view it’s certainly something to be welcomed”.

The Minister wants large sporting organizations to make the changes by 2019 and smaller sports will get another year.

Speaking to Morning Ireland, Patrick O’Donovan noted that there has been massive efforts in terms of television audiences, reporting, high performance and narrowing the gap in terms of participation, but not so much at the top of Irish sport when it comes to women on the boards of sporting organizations. He said,

Crucially, young Irish women, particularly adolescent Irish women who are dropping out of sport in a lot of cases at a rate that we are concerned about, they need role models and not only role models on the field but role models off the field.

His proposal will have a 2-3 year lead in for boards of sporting organizations to be at least 30% male, 30% female and 40% either male or female. Financial penalties for organizations who don’t comply with these quotas are still being worked out.

What I am trying to do here is to provide an opportunity for women to break that glass ceiling.

“You have the situation where we want to see a third of any senior committee or governing body made up of women over a 2-3 year period.”

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality.

Featured image from Munster and Connacht during the Women’s Interprovincial at Musgrave Park, from irishrugby.ie. 

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