Ten of the most influential women in Australian sport ahead of International Women’s Day
Why do we need another International Women’s Day? People will really ask that.
In Australian sport we have seen the rise and rise of women playing the same games as men, the introduction of sporting competitions that run parallel to men’s competitions and collective bargaining which has led to an upward trend in wages. But there is still a long way to go.
The prize money to be shared among the 32 participating nations at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup is expected to be around US$100 million, more than double that of France 2019. The 32 teams that took part in the FIFA Men’s World Cup 2022 in Qatar shared a prize pool of around US$650 million.
That means even if the Matildas win in front of their home crowd in August, their check will be millions of dollars less than the Socceroos for the same ninth-place finish in Qatar 2022.
Australia’s representative teams at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games have done a good job of moving closer to gender parity in terms of selected athletes, but when it comes to coaching our high-performance sports, the proportion of women is around 15 per cent.
There is an interesting lesson to be learned from the US. Sports historian Greg Blood of Australian Sport Reflections has noted that with the introduction of Title IX by the US government, it became law that all federally funded university programs must be offered equally to men and women. This included sports programs.
But as collegiate coaching positions became more lucrative for women’s teams, the proportion of women coaches dropped from 90 percent before Title IX to around 42 percent after.
As women rise to key positions in sport, they can see where change is needed because they have fought their own battles to get there. With more women on sport boards than ever before, Australian sport still has a long way to go to achieve gender equality in all positions and roles.
Of Australia’s 46 national and elite sporting organizations, only nine have a woman executive director.
On this International Women’s Day, The Ticket has compiled a top 10 list of women who not only hold positions of influence, but are using those positions to advocate for change. They weren’t chosen for popularity, but for actual influence.
The sport remains male-dominated on many levels, but these women have broken through that barrier and are considered substantial professionals across all gender divides. Their fearlessness in using their influence also makes them powerful, and as history has shown – yes still shows – using power for good is notoriously difficult.
Here are The Ticket’s 10 most influential women. who is in yours
Anika Wells, Federal Sports Minister
Well’s responsibilities include the sports portfolio and Sport Integrity Australia.
She is a board member of the Organizing Committee for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games and has a seat on the Executive Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Josephine Sukkar, Chair of the Australian Sport Commission
She is responsible for supporting and investing in sport at all levels, including overseeing Sport Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport. She was a former Chair of the Australian Government’s Sports Advisory Diplomacy Council.
She recently resigned as General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, where she has been instrumental in driving significant cultural and legal changes in Qatar, particularly labor rights, in the run-up to the FIFA Men’s World Cup 2022.
Currently Vice Chair at The B Team, aiming to create new norms of corporate governance focused on sustainability, equity and accountability.
Catherine Clark, Managing Director of Paralympics Australia
Has been appointed to the position of rewriting the agenda for Australia’s para-athletes and para-sports, including creating opportunities from grassroots participation to establishing pathways to identify talent leading up to the 2032 Paralympic Games in Build Brisbane.
Christina Matthews, Chief Executive of Cricket WA
One of only three women to have managed a top-flight cricket association, a position she has held since 2011.
The former vice-captain of Australia’s women’s cricket team is known for driving cultural change, strengthening community ties and reshaping business and government relationships.
Kate Gill, Co-CEO of PFA
The chairman of the Australian Professional Footballers’ Association and former captain of the Matildas is a strategic thinker and an integral part of the PFA team that designed the ‘From Grassroots to Greatness’ roadmap that revolutionized women’s football in Australia, including the vision for FIFA to host the Women’s World Cup.
Sam Kerr, Matilda’s captain
The first ever female marquee player in Australia is the direct leader of the team which is consistently ranked as one of the top teams most resonating with the Australian public.
She has led the squad through public challenges, united a once-divided team and had Australians across gender lines wear team shirts with her name emblazoned on them.
Donnell Wallam, diamond archer
The Noongar woman, who was selected to the national netball team and had yet to play a game, refused to wear a uniform with a sponsor’s logo bearing the name of a man who once championed the cause of people of the First Nations are sterilized and bred.
At a time when the Governing Body was under financial pressure, Wallam was a leader in putting morals before money.
Cate Campbell, Chair of the Australian Olympic Committee Athletes Commission
The quest for a fifth Olympics in Paris 2024 shows incredible mental toughness, but speaking to world governing body FINA ahead of a controversial vote on trans inclusion, Cate has shown she is politically savvy and has a voice to speak up for don’t be afraid.
Caroline Wilson, AFL journalist
There are very few sports journalists whose voice counts at headquarters. Wilson is arguably one of Australia’s most influential sports journalists. What she writes and what she sends is important. Where important decisions are made, their views are considered worthy of discussion.
Keeping the list only in the top 10 means a significant number of other women working in sport and driving real change have not been mentioned. This in no way diminishes their value and contribution to Australian sport.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-07/top-10-women-in-australian-sport-iwd/102060470 Ten of the most influential women in Australian sport ahead of International Women’s Day