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Women in sport

Australian women's athletic championships race

Women in Australian sport are shining brighter than ever with unprecedented media coverage and broadcasting deals boosting the profile and giving rise to female sporting heroes. Our women are winning the hearts and minds of a new fan base and inspiring young girls across the country.

The stats

Women in sport shotput athlete

The AusPlay survey reports that overall participation rates of NSW males and females is similar, however some groups of girls and women participate at significantly lower levels.

For example, only 35% of girls aged 5-8 years participated in organised sport and physical activity twice/week outside of school hours*.

Of women in the 15-17 years and 25-34 years’ age groups 51% participated in sport and physical activity three times/week compared to the average of NSW participation rate of 59%+.

Women with disability, unemployed women and women who spoke a language other than English at home also had significantly lower participation.

The NSW Government is committed to assisting women to participate in sport at all levels.

Source:  *AusPlay Dec 2016  and +AusPlay April 2017

Women in sports leadership

The case for gender diversity on boards and in leadership roles is well established.  Evidence suggests that boards that demonstrate a progressive attitude and commitment to board diversity and value the role of women in their organisation will outperform those that don’t.

Over the past few years, we have seen an increasing number of women appointed to key leadership roles as board members and senior executives in a number of traditionally male dominated sports. But there is still a long way to go.

As of March 2016:

  • 30% of board directorships of NSW State Sporting Organisations (SSOs) were held by women.
  • Women accounted for only 21% of NSW SSOs Chairs/Presidents and 34% of Chief Executive Officers.

Grants and funding

The NSW Government, through the 2015/16 Sport Development Grant Program, approved funding for two State Sporting Organisations (SSOs) to improve participation for women:

  • $50,000 to Rugby NSW to increase the participation base for girls Rugby Sevens and
  • $25,000 to AFL NSW/ACT to increase female participation in community AFL.

All SSOs receiving funding under the Sport Development Program are encouraged to undertake activities that increase the number of women in leadership and decision-making positions.

The NSW Government provided a grant of $38,000 in 2015/16 to Cricket NSW to support participation pathways for Women’s Cricket as part of the Cricket World Cup Legacy and announcement of a Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL).

The NSW Government committed $200,000 towards the new Rowing Australia Women’s National Training Centre on the Nepean River in Penrith. The centre will provide female rowers from across the country with the facilities to reach the highest level of their sport.

Cricket NSW received $200,000 in 2015/16 from the Office of Sport for the upgrade of North Sydney Oval (Bon Andrews Oval) to support the growth and professionalisation of the women’s game.

The NSW Government has also invested significantly in the sport of Netball:

  • financial support from Destination NSW for the successful Netball World Cup held in August 2015
  • $27 million in funding towards Netball Central at Sydney Olympic Park
  • $12,700 for governance education through the Sport Development Grant Program (SDGP) and
  • $10,000 for the NSW Youth Sport Program in 2015/16.

Advances in professional women’s leagues


It is an exciting time for Netball with Netball NSW securing one of the three new licences for the Suncorp Super League which commenced in February 2017. The new broadcasting deal will boost the exposure of women’s sport with live free-to-air coverage of two games a week on Channel 9 and two games covered on Telstra TV.


Women’s AFL is booming with record numbers of teams in local competitions and the Greater Western Sydney Giants winning a licence for the inaugural National Women’s League.


In Surfing the inaugural QS6000 Sydney International Women’s Pro held in Cronulla in November 2016 boasted the biggest field of women’s surfers of any tournament in the world with a field of 96 professionals from 12 nations.

Rugby Sevens

Rugby Sevens is gaining momentum following the success of the Pearls’ Olympic Gold Medal.  Hundreds of young women are lining up to try Sevens with over 192 girls attending an introductory session at Crescent Head last year. In addition, the recent under age and open State Women’s Championships had record numbers of teams competing.

In the World Game, the future is looking bright with Australia qualifying for a place at the Under 19 Women's Asian Cup in China in October 2017, an event which doubles as a qualifier for the 2018 Under 20 World Cup.

Cricket The WBBL is going from strength to strength with many of this season’s games broadcast on Network 10 following the competition’s outstanding ratings success last year.