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7th Mar, 2024

Four in five women coaches have experienced sexism, Kick it out research suggests

New research from Kick It Out suggests that 80% of women football coaches have experienced some form of sexism or misogyny while in a coaching environment.

The survey, which was conducted among 115 women coaches, also found that 70% of respondents had faced sexism or misogyny while on a coaching course.

Over half of respondents said they had been spoken to differently while coaching based solely on their gender (57%), while 55% recalled having their opinions questioned or overlooked, and 48% had been questioned about their knowledge of the rules. Moreover, while 60% believed coaching was an inclusive space, 35% said they had felt unwelcome in the coaching environment.

Of those who had experienced sexist abuse while coaching, 56% said this came from coaching staff (either at their own club, or opposition staff), while 40% had experienced sexism from parents of players they coached.

Concerningly, 54% of those asked admitted that they have thought about quitting coaching because of the sexism they have experienced.

The research also found that 71% of those who had experienced sexism or misogyny on a coaching course didn’t feel comfortable reporting to the course lead.

One anonymous grassroots coach said: “I love coaching and inspiring girls to play football, and female coaches are important role models.

“Unfortunately, the past few years have been very difficult personally with sexism from my fellow coaches. I never wanted to take it further because I don't want to be blacklisted for it, but I’m no longer coaching because of the sexism I’ve experienced.

“Clubs need to do better to support the female coaches they have and have a policy in place where action will be taken if sexism is reported to them.”

Hollie Varney, Kick It Out chief operating officer, said: “At a time of huge growth for the women’s game, it’s alarming that over half of the coaches surveyed said they’d thought about quitting because of sexism they’d experienced.

“Many of the women we spoke to shared their passion and love for coaching but also talked about the exhaustion that came from being regularly undermined, questioned, and overlooked in the coaching environment.

“Football needs to take sexism seriously if we are to boost the number of women in coaching and we hope that findings from this research can be a catalyst to make coaching a more welcoming space for women.

“We’d encourage those who experience sexism in coaching, or throughout the game, to report it to us. We can get the right people involved and provide support for those affected.”

The findings come following a sharp increase in reports of sexism and misogyny to Kick It Out, with reports up 400% during the 2022-23 season compared to the previous season.

Kick It Out has recently appointed grassroots coach educators to upskill coaches on how to tackle unconscious bias in the game and provide vital support to coaching players from minority backgrounds.

Football clubs and organisations can also find educational resources about tackling sexism and misogyny at Kick It Out’s online education platform, The Academy.