New research by global tech giant Atlassian and the AFLW, released in the lead-up to International Women’s Day, shows just how important it is to have strong sporting female role models, like AFLW’s Erin Phillips, W-League’s Sam Kerr and Rugby 7s Charlotte Caslick.
They found that playing in team sports is key to nailing career goals with 82 per cent of respondents in senior management positions revealing they played sports when they were younger.
The issue is, only 34 per cent of women continue to play sports after school, versus 50 per cent of men, with the researchers pointing to this as “a potential disadvantage for Australian female leadership”.
“The research talked about the way that women – especially those in athletics, business and technology – lack role models. And so it can be incredibly hard to do something when you’ve never seen someone like you succeed at it,” Aubrey Blanche, head of global diversity and inclusion at Atlassian, tells WH. “We call that the ‘imagination gap’. And that can be a little overwhelming when we talk about trying to reach gender parity and gender equity.”
But this is where the rise of our favourite sportswomen come in. While women like Erin, Sam and Charlotte and paving the way in their respective sports, they’re also the role models that us girls need to get more involved too.
“And that’s the really exciting thing. We’re shining a light on role models that we have and also understanding that getting girls involved in team sports and keeping them engaged can give them the skills that they need to be really be the role models of tomorrow,” Blanche says.
So how is it that playing sport leads to career success anyway?
“What the respondents said was the skills they developed on the field were things that they could take into the boardroom, things like cooperation and teamwork,” Blanche says.
“Being involved in a team gave them confidence and more resilience when they faced challenges. And even [helped with] things as specific as the ability to give and receive feedback. And none of those skills feel like they’re specific to team sports, but they can be developed there, and they can be carried forward with them as they go into their careers.”