Two thirds of women working in the football industry have experienced discrimination, but only 12 per cent reported it according to a Women in Football study.
In the network’s largest ever survey, which was sent to their over 4,000 members, the most common form of discrimination was mis-used “banter”, with 52 per cent of respondents having experienced or witnessed this. Those who did report discrimination also said it was often “brushed under the carpet”.
Chair of Women in Football Ebru Köksal said the feedback made for “heartbreaking reading”: “One story of bias, outdated perceptions and outright bullying is one too many. There is still a lot of work to do to ensure that women are encouraged to forge careers in the industry and this is where WiF will continue to play a big part.
WiF ambassador, broadcaster and commentator Jacqui Oatley added that, while she was not surprised by the findings, she was worried the widespread experiences might discourage women from pursuing a career in the industry.
“You can be the most football-mad girl or woman in the world, but if early on in your career you come up against somebody who judges you in a negative way based on your gender then it can knock you,” Oatley said. “It has been pushed behind closed doors a little bit, but I think we still have a lot of work to do.
“Some women think, do I want this feeling of being up against it and having to prove myself all the time? But it doesn’t have to be like that. There are loads of us around to help you deal with it, that’s one of the great things about WiF.”
Oatley encouraged women to report their experiences, and to use the network for support. On Thursday WiF said they were to launch a new corporate membership scheme to support employers in becoming more gender inclusive, and there was some better news in their survey too. 78 per cent of members said they felt supported by their colleagues in the workplace, and a further two thirds felt supported by their employer. Additionally, nearly 60 per cent believe their organisation celebrates female talent.
“When I came into the industry there weren’t a lot of people doing it, certainly not in commentary, and I did feel very lonely,” Oatley said. “Whatever negatives people read into this survey, I also think people should take the major positives from the fact there are so many more women in it together and helping each other – and being helped by men which is wonderful. We have male members and champions and it’s absolutely about women fulfilling their potential and the industry being better off as a result.”