There are some amazing initiatives to increase female participation at the pinnacle of our sport at the moment, from the Olympic Games, SailGP, to The Ocean Race but what can we do at a local level to help increase female participation at your sailing club?
Back in December 2019 the World Sailing Trust launched a report that passed a lot of the sailing community by due to the proximity of the pandemic. The Women in Sailing Strategic Report was a huge undertaking, the Survey received over 4,500 responses from 75 countries, from people aged 11-83 and with roles and experience across the sport – dinghies and keelboats sailing on and offshore, representatives from MNAs and Class Associations, and race officials, umpires and event organisers.
The ambition of the Strategic Review was relatively simple: identify disparities across the sport, understand why they exist, and consider what might be done to improve the balance, learning from examples within sailing and other sports.
Below are some of the suggested initiatives you could implement at your local sailing club to enhance gender diversity and increase participation by women and girls. World Sailing suggested prioritizing 2-3 to start in the next 6-12 months, and a further 2-3 to add subsequently. Identifying a champion and/or a committee is a good way to make sure this work is driven forward.
- Provide or seek mentors for female sailors in your clubs. This could be via internal or local networks – mentors could be male or female. Alternatively, there may be external mentoring programmes your members could access.
- Introduce a female only regatta to provide dedicated opportunities for women to sail together. How can you support women to get involved who might not be inclined to volunteer or may lack confidence?
- Introduce a mixed gender regatta where females helm and represent over 50% of the crew, eg. Irish Pathfinder Regatta in 2019.
- Mandate races that must be helmed and/or crewed by women.
- Mandate mixed crews in regattas / amending the rules to encourage higher female participation rates, or create new mixed events.
- Run training programmes for women to become race officers, and provide them with learning opportunities on races.
- Run training programmes for women to become coaches, and provide them with learning opportunities in training.
- Actively encourage more women into senior leadership roles, for example by recruiting specifically for women on committees or boards, creating mentors for women who could lead in the future, and sharing the experiences of women in those roles.
- Increase promotion of female sailors, highlighting female role models for example through social and traditional media, speakers on panels and at dinners, and in photographic and graphic work.
- Support women’s social events, talks and knowledge transfer to create clear space for women to participate and build networks.
If this is a topic you’re passionate about, we highly recommend reading the report and its recommendations!
Credit: World Sailing Trust | Women in Sailing Strategic Review