One third of girls don't feel they have the same access to school sports as boys

1 August 2016

New research from Girlguiding reveals one in three girls age 11-16 say they do not have the same choices as boys in school sport

This signals a marked shift from girls’ experiences at primary level where only 1 in 10 report a difference in the activities available to them versus their male peers.  

After a summer supporting inspiring female athletes, thousands of girls will therefore move up to secondary schools in September, to find the sports they’ve seen on screen are not an option for them.  

Today Girlguiding, with the backing of British sporting heroes Kelly Holmes, Lizzy Yarnold, Beth Tweddle and Judy Murray, is raising awareness of inequalities in accessing sport. All girls should feel supported and encouraged, to discover new skills and develop a passion and talent for the sports they love. 

Throughout August girls across the UK will be inspired by the women of team GB. Girlguiding’s research showed 82% of girls age 11+ think women Olympic and Paralympic athletes are good role models for girls. It is vital that this enthusiasm for sport is nurtured, as they return to the classroom next term, and girls are given equal chance to become the stars of the future.

I truly believe that sport should be fun and enjoyable and this comes when you find the sports which are right for you. This can’t happen if girls feel some sports are not for them. I didn’t find my sport of skeleton till I was 19 years old and played lots of different sports growing up, from rugby and diving, to athletics and horse riding, I gave everything a try.  By offering a variety of sports to young girls they hopefully will have the chance to find one that they enjoy and be motivated to get fit and stay active for longer. - Lizzy Yarnold, Olympic skeleton gold medallist

Karen Butler, a Girlguiding leader from Bristol and part of the shooting team for ParalympicsGB in Rio, said, 'It is essential girls are encouraged to be active and have the opportunity to try different sports because the great thing about sport is there is something for everyone. With greater choice, girls are more likely to find a sport they enjoy and one they will want to continue playing.

'I’m proud to be part of ParalympicsGB and hope girls will be inspired by the achievements they see during the Paralympics and Olympics this summer. There are so many different sports out there for girls to enjoy, as long as they have the opportunities and encouragement to have a go.'

Girls told us they enjoy playing sport and being active but they want more choice. Rugby, football, cricket, squash and swimming are on their wish list of sports they would love to try.

Victoria Jenkinson, from Girlguiding’s Advocate Panel, said: 'Girls told us boys have a better choice of sport at school, playing sports such as cricket, contact rugby and football, which the girls said they would have preferred instead of the sports they were offered. Another girl told us she’s always wanted to know how to play football but only boys were taught how to play at her school and now she’s too intimidated to learn. No girl should be made to feel that a certain sport isn’t for them. We want there to be equal opportunities so girls have access to all sports.'

The research findings come from Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2016 which will be published in full at the end of September 2016. The Girls’ Attitudes Survey is the largest survey of its kind into the views of UK girls.