Making sport a level playing field

"This area is extremely topical and we wish to promote and grow our research expertise and collaboration, so that women are engaged fully with sport and exercise."

Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology

Academics from Staffordshire University are campaigning to break down barriers faced by women working in the sport and exercise industry.

This month the University hosted its second annual networking event to promote positive female role models and offer support for young women forging careers in sport and exercise.

Dr Jacky Forsyth, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology, explained: “Women remain under-represented in graduate-level jobs within sport and exercise and may also feel isolated due to the gendered nature of the male-dominated sporting environment.

“In certain sport and exercise domains, jobs are seen not to be for women. The speakers at our event identified how they needed to prove themselves and be confident, in order to be taken seriously.”

The evening featured inspirational guest speakers, including former table tennis champion Angela Smith who now works at Stoke City FC, sharing stories about their careers and offering guidance for female students.

Successful Staffordshire graduates also returned to speak at the event including Claire Farquharson, a Physiotherapist and Senior Lecturer in Sports Therapy at Edgehill University, and Ellie Beckwith who is a Personal Trainer, Franchise Partner and Managing Director at Bodytech gym in Market Drayton.

“This event offers a chance to network with other women in the industry which can often be the key to a successful career. From such mentors, females can get the help to boost their confidence.” commented Jacky.

“It also provides a safe space for females to talk about things they may feel unable to discuss with male colleagues – difficulties in balancing work and caring responsibilities, areas of low confidence, for instance.”

Jacky, executive member and initiator of the UK-based Women in Sport and Exercise Academic Network, is keen to continue to pave the way for women in sport and exercise, and is organising a national conference on campus next year, 'Blood, Sweat and Fears' which features keynote speaker Baroness Sue Campbell, CBE, Head of the Women's Football Association.

She also hopes to start a women's academic network at Staffordshire University, to encourage female academics to reach their full potential by offering encouragement, inspiration, and career advice.

“This area is extremely topical and we wish to promote and grow our research expertise and collaboration, so that women are engaged fully with sport and exercise.” Jacky added.

“We are still looking for speakers, so if you would like to take part in the conference or attend then please get in touch.”

Find out more about the 2018 conference 'Blood, Sweat and Fears' here.

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