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Women on football boards – state of play

Let’s think about Australia's range of football governing boards as “leagues” for a minute and see how different “teams” rank in the “Gender Representation Cup”.

In the top league – Football Australia and the Member Federation boards – gender representation has (mostly) improved considerably over the past few years.

Forty-forty-twenty is the catch cry for government expectations for board balance – where at least 40% women, at least 40% men and a flexible 20% for either. So what are the stats for footballs top boards?

Our research shows that the current league leader is Football Queensland whose board is 50% women as at 12 June 2021. Cellar dwellers are Football NSW with only 29% of their board members being women.

So as a general rule the minimum of 40% women expectation of government has become the norm for most key football boards. Kudos to those federations which have done better than that.

Here’s the league table as at June 2021. (Information is taken from member federation websites as at 12 June 2021. )

There are now three Member Federations with women presidents – Capital Football, Northern NSW Football and Football Victoria which has just elected its first women president.

Overall there is a total of 29 women on national and state federation boards among up 40% of those boards.

Below this federation board level, there are many gaps in the data around gender representation.

A League clubs have few women on their boards.

No member federation has a woman chief executive officer.

Within each state, there are state-wide bodies involved in football governance – zone representatives, standing committees and the like. What is gender representation like for those bodies? We have started researching this level of governance also. So far the findings are poor for women.

In Victoria, an analysis shows men overwhelmingly in these leadership roles: certainly not meeting the minimum 40% expectation. If not for the strong involvement of women on the Women’s Standing Committee, the numbers would be even worse. It might be said that to a significant extent these figures represent participation in the game by women. But that’s a spotlight on other failures, not an excuse.

As an example, here are the details in Victoria for state-level roles.

Women Onside will be undertaking further research over the next few months to measure the current state of play across Australia.


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