Sport is the “last bastion of acceptable sexism in society”, Ciara Kelly has warned.
This morning, the latest Newstalk survey found that men are nearly three times more likely to be playing organized sport than women.
The poll, carried out by Amárach Research, found that just 6% of Irish women are currently playing organised sport – a figure that rises to 16% for men.
The poll also found that men are far more likely to have played organised sport at some point in their lives – with 72% of men saying they had versus 45% or women.
On Newstalk Breakfast, Ciara said the results are not surprising.
“Sport, whether we like to admit it or not, is the last bastion of acceptable sexism in society,” she said. “There’s no two ways about it.”
“It is kind of an invisible sexism, because we’re so bloody used to it.
“Sportspeople, male and female, are paid completely differently in most sports; they are promoted differently in most sports.
“There’s loads and loads of men’s sports on TV and radio, hardly any female sports.
“They are also supported differently by way of facilities and infrastructure and all of the community stuff that has gone into it – that is totally different for male and female.
“It is changing. I will accept that it is changing but Jesus, it’s 2023. It just goes to show that when you leave things without laws, that sexism is allowed to flourish.”
⚽️ Gender Divide in Sport 🏑
Only 6% of women surveyed are currently playing sport. That number rises to 16% for men.
— Josh Crosbie (@JoshCrosbie3) July 28, 2023
Speaking to reporter Josh Crosbie on the show, Sport Ireland chief Una May said the organisation is actively focusing on teenage girls in a bid to tackle the ‘huge dropout rate’ when they move to secondary school.
“Of course we are seeing women not going into sport,” said Ciara.
“Teenage girls get self-conscious because they get something called a period and then, suddenly, they are running around in little white shorts, because we never thought that was anything other than a good idea – ridiculous.
“Girls get self-conscious coming into their teens. They develop, they get boobs, they get all of that and they become self-conscious about their bodies – we have ever taken any of that into account.
“It is all those little things – the white shorts, the wearing of the skirt, that contribute to girls thinking, ‘I’m uncomfortable here; I don’t want to do this.’
The Newstalk survey also found that the majority of people do not believe we encourage young girls and teenagers to play sport to the same extent as boys.
In all, 56% said girls do not get enough encouragement – with 64% of women feeling we need to do more to encourage young girls to take part.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of people feel women’s sport does not get enough funding in Ireland – with 60% of men and 71% of women feeling more funding is needed.
“I had Thomas Byrne who is the Minister of State for sport on the day we had our opening match Australia against Ireland in the Women’s World Cup and he said there is going to be nowhere to hide anymore because they are going to cut funding,” said Ciara.
“If you don’t have equal access, if you don’t have equal facilities, if you don’t have 40% membership on your board of any sporting organization female and male, they are going to stop funding.
“That is the only thing that will work.
“The lack of money, the lack of support, the lack of facilities. It is genuinely a bastion of sexism that we have never torn down.”