University puts the spotlight on women in sport

"Sport has traditionally been a male dominated industry and there is still much sexual inequality."

Dr Jacky Forsyth, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology

Staffordshire University is hosting a national event to address challenges faced by women in sport and exercise.

The two-day conference 'Blood, Sweat and Fears' takes place on campus from 13 - 14 June and features a host of guests from the world of sport including keynote speakers Annamarie Phelps CBE OLY, Vice Chair of the British Olympic Association, and former squash champion Angela Smith.

Organiser Dr Jacky Forsyth is a Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology and executive member of the UK-based Women in Sport and Exercise Academic Network (WISEAN).

She explained: “Sport has traditionally been a male dominated industry and there is still much sexual inequality. Just recently a list of The World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes 2018 was published and features no women at all.”

The event will address the issues and opportunities for women's participation in sport and exercise including how to encourage more women and girls to stay active.

There will also be discussions around female-specific health and medical issues, from breast biomechanics to the effect of the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptives on performance.

“Most studies out there - on things like training or diet - are based on men and aren't relevant to women because we are physiologically different. Oestrogen levels, for example, can affect all sorts of things like energy levels, bone health, and cardiovascular issues.

“Women also face different psychological challenges such as the guilt when taking time out from sport during pregnancy or even giving it up completely.”

The conference will also host a range of exhibitors at the event with demonstrations of biomechanics technology which analyses movement and products designed specifically for women from a yoga seat to a women's fitness app.

The Women's Sport Network will also showcase their series of Mojo Manuals which are designed to help young girls develop greater body confidence in parallel with sport-related skills.

Jacky added: “There is a high rate of teenage girls who drop-out of sports. This can be for a number of reasons from starting periods, to self-esteem or issues around body image.

“Hopefully by raising awareness of women's issues and filling the gaps in our research knowledge then we can help to change that and make sport a level playing field for everyone.”

The women in sport and exercise conference 'Blood, Sweat and Fears' will be held on 13 and 14 June 2018 at Staffordshire University, Leek Road, Stoke on Trent. For more information visit - http://www.staffs.ac.uk/events/womeninsport//

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