Our research reveals a huge difference in the number of men and women playing sport. And it's not because females don't want to get active. Millions of women and girls are afraid to exercise because of fear of judgement.
Check out our insight pack, Go Where Women Are, which includes up-to-date research exploring the relevant motivations, barriers and triggers to getting more women more active.
We responded by creating the groundbreaking This Girl Can campaign. It is the first campaign of its kind to feature women who sweat and jiggle as they exercise. It seeks to tell the real story of women who play sport by using images that are the complete opposite of the idealised and stylised images of women weare now used to seeing.
Our campaign has clearly captured a nerve: 13 million people have now viewed the flagship This Girl Can film online.
The campaign doesn’t hold back in trying to encourage women to beat their barriers. "Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox" and "I kick balls, deal with it" are among the hard-hitting lines used in the campaign to prompt a change in attitudes and help boost women’s confidence.
It comes as research, carried out by us, reveals that at by every measure, fewer women than men play sport regularly – two million fewer 14-40 year olds in total. Despite this, 75 per cent say they want to be more active. In some other European countries, this disparity doesn’t exist.
Further research into what's stopping women turning their ambitions into reality found that a fear of judgement – on appearance, ability or how they chose to spend time on themselves – puts women of all ages off exercising.
The findings were the driving force behind the campaign’s creation, which aims to empower women and encourage more to get active.
Overcoming fear of judgement
Sport England CEO Jennie Price, said: “The figures on participation are crystal clear. There is a significant gender gap, with two million more men than women exercising or playing sport regularly. I believe we can tackle this gap, because our research shows that 75% of women would like to do more.
“Before we began this campaign, we looked very carefully at what women were saying about why they felt sport and exercise was not for them. Some of the issues, like time and cost, were familiar, but one of the strongest themes was a fear of judgement. Worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not fit enough and not skilled enough came up time and again.
"Every single woman I have talked to about this campaign – and that is now hundreds – has identified with this, and it is that fear of not being ‘good enough’ in some way, and the fear that you are the only one who feels like that, that we want to address.
“In This Girl Can we want to tell the real story of women who exercise and play sport. They come in all shapes and sizes and all levels of ability. They have a myriad of reasons for doing what they do. If you are wondering if you should join them – or carry on – this campaign says it really doesn’t matter if you are a bit rubbish or completely brilliant, the main thing is that you are a woman and you are doing something, and that deserves to be celebrated.”
For more about This Girl Can, go to www.thisgirlcan.co.uk where you can find out about the women in the campaign, get tips on how to get active and join the national debate. You can also use the hashtag #thisgirlcan to join the conversation on Twitter.