More than 80 per cent of women working in football have experienced discrimination, study finds

A new study into women working in football has found that more than 80 per cent of them have experienced discrimination in the workplace.

Despite “significant” improvements having been made, there was “still a way to go”, the report concluded, with the number of women experiencing discrimination reaching 82 per cent – a rise from 66 per cent in a similar study three years ago.

The survey, conducted by Women in Football (WIF), a network for women in and around the football sector, did, however, show “positive change” for the football industry.

Among the improvements, the research revealed that more women in football feel accepted and encouraged at work than ever before. In addition, among those who had experienced gender-based discrimination , 23 per cent felt able to report it – up from 12 per cent in the 2020 survey.

Similarly, 89 per cent of respondents felt optimistic about the prospects for women in the industry, up from 62 per cent in 2016.

Employers must ‘create a safe and encouraging system’

WIF chief executive Yvonne Harrison said progress was slower than most people would like, “but there are some real nuggets of optimism”.

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She has called for the wider industry to be more transparent, saying: “The glass ceiling effect remains a concern,” which had been hard to address because a lack of data from within the industry.

“It’s also clear that employers must create a safe and encouraging system for people to report discrimination, then protect those on the receiving end, while dealing with the issue properly,” she added.

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“Like all other forms of discrimination, sexism can ruin careers and lives. Sadly, it’s becoming more widespread. Football needs to up its game and show zero tolerance to the perpetrators.”

The survey had 571 responses from women, 54 from men and seven non-binary people.

It also showed that among the WIF female member respondents, 93 per cent had faced obstacles in their career because of their gender, and almost half believed their gender was the reason for them being overlooked for promotion.

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