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It’s 2017! Persisting Gaps and New Opportunities to Actively Engage Girls and Young Women


>>Welcome everyone and thank you
for joining PARC today. We will be hearing from Sydney
Millar, who will be sharing information on Persisting Gaps and
New Opportunities to Actively Engage Girls and Young Women. We invite you to stand or move around
throughout the webinar. Before we get started, I wanted to
provide a quick overview of PARC for those who may be unfamiliar with the
organization or the services we offer. PARC is the Centre for Excellence for
physical activity promotion in Ontario. We are funded by the Ministry of
Health and Long Term Care and managed by Ophea. We were established in 2003 and
provide support for physical activity promoters working in a variety of
sectors across Ontario. Ophea is a not-for-profit
organization that champions healthy, active living in schools and
communities through quality programs and services, partnerships and
advocacy, and is led by the vision that all children and youth value and
enjoy the lifelong benefits of healthy, active living. While PARC and Ophea work with
different audiences, Ophea has more of a focus on children/youth while
PARC works across the lifespan, both organizations compliment each other
in highlighting the shared responsibility of creating and
maintaining healthy schools and healthy communities. PARC supports physical activity
promotion working across the lifespan from prenatal physical activity, on
to early years, and right up to older adults. PARC supports physical activity
promoters working in: Public Health, Recreation, Sport, Fitness,
Community/Family Health as well as NGO’s PARC’s provides in-person, telephone
and email consultation and referral services which can include expert
consultation support, links to existing resources, strategies and
approaches, support in problem solving, and up-to-date and
relevant information. PARC provides both free and
fee-for-service provincial and regional workshops and training
opportunities. These opportunities are available
both in-person and in a webinar format. We are also in our fifth year of PARC’s Professional Speaker Series,
which you are participating in today, and includes 8 webinars with a
“research to action” focus on physical activity and intersecting
health promotion topics. You can keep up to date with our
Speaker Series announcements by joining our newsletter,
PARConnects, which is sent out on a weekly basis. PARC has a variety of resources
available to assist you in promoting physical activity and our resources
are available in English and French, electronically and hardcopy and free
of charge at parc.ophea.net. The PARC website is bilingual, and
includes an events page for physical activity promotion related events as
well as a life stage selector to help you easily find resources and
professional learning opportunities which apply most to you. All of our services can be found on
our website and we encourage you to browse our website for
upcoming webinars. As mentioned previously, our webinar
today is being presented by Sydney Millar. Sydney is a recognized expert on
gender equity, and has collaborated with individuals and organizations
across Canada to support the active engagement of girls and women in
sport and physical activity. Through leadership roles with the
Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and
Physical Activity (CAAWS), she authored a number of practical
publications about gender equity and how to create positive programs and
inclusive environments. Thank you for being here today,
Sydney.>>Thank you for having me. So, again to echo, Kristin,
thank you all for being here today and thank you
for PARC for giving me this opportunity to reflect on where we’ve
been and where we’re going with respect to girls and young women and
more broadly in relation to gender equity in Canada sport and
physical activity system. I’ve divided today’s session into two
general sections, I’m going to start with some persisting issues and then
turn to some new opportunities, programs and initiatives. Throughout, I’ll provide everyone with
take away suggestions whether you’re a teacher, health promoter, recreation
leader, coach, parents, aunt or grandfather, we all have a role to
play in ensuring girls and young women are tuned into the
benefits of participation. Today, I will give you ample
suggestions for actions to tweak your professional practice, improve your
organization’s programs and services and inspire a friend or colleague
to take action, too. I’ll pause part way through my
material to answer any question that popped up, so feel free to ask them
in the chat box as we go along and we’ll end with enough time for any
other questions and for you to share your thoughts on persisting issues
and new opportunities. Before we dive into things, I think
it’s important to review some of the stats on girls participation. We sometimes assume people are
familiar with these stats but many are not and I’ve certainly been
surprised about some colleagues that have been completely oblivious to the
reality of these stats over time. It’s great to have them in your
metaphorical back pocket. In Canada, only 13% of boys versus 6%
of girls get at least 60 minutes of daily moderate and vigorous
physical activity. The rate for both boys and girls are
alarming but considerably worse for girls and that gender gap has
persisted for many years. 62% of children spend less than one
hour engaged in active outdoor play. There is one article from the UK that
I read that talked about that being less time than penitentiary inmates
spend outside each day. Only 24% of 15 to 17 year olds meet
the sedentary behaviour recommendations of no more than two
hours of screen time per day. And really I think two hours of
screen time for children is probably a lot. And research from the University of
Manitoba involving a sample of more than 6000 6 to 16 year olds found
that boys outperformed girls on 13 of 18 basic movement skills. This means that girls are less likely
to have basic skills to participate competently in many sports and
physical activities. Further, although boys and girls both
recognize the health benefits of participation. Girls reported lower agreement with
the notion that physical activity brings happiness. If we want to get more girls and
young women active, we need to change this association. These steps are important because we
know that early sport and physical activity experiences influence
participation patterns in life. So, what is going on? To ensure you’re all familiar with
the chat box before we go any further, take your mouse over there
and tell me what you think? What is one big issue that you think
is affecting girls participation today? Self-confidence.
Self-esteem. Body image.
Perceived competence. Stigmata that sport is a boys thing.
Parental attitude. Access.
Peer pressure. Confidence.
Visible role models. Societal expectations.
Other priorities. Media messages.
No sweating. Fear of risk.
Access to facilities, equipment etc. What else?
This is a great list, so far. All of the above. Thanks, Kristine. Having unique physical activity
programs that they would enjoy. Absolutely. We’ll take a few more. Female coaches or
probably lack there of. Feeling embarrassed. Absolutely. Lack of targeted programming. Coordination. Come back to lack of perceived or
real skill or competence. Peer influence.
Lack of friends participating. Absolutely. These are all great lists, for sure. Funding, lack of funding
for girls programs. So, I’m going to stop you all there,
that was great and hopefully you’ll continue to contribute
through the chat box. So, preparing for today’s webinar the
last few months, I narrowed my list of persisting issues or hurdles that
are limiting change in the active engagement of girls and young
women down to five. I’m going to talk about
these more now. The first issue I want to talk
about is gender equity. Most people would say that they agree
with the notion that girls and women should have the same opportunities as
boys and men but looking at the participation stats I just shared and
considering what we know about persisting marginalization of some
groups and the glass ceiling experienced by women in leadership
roles, we still have a lot of work to do. I’ve been talking about these issues
for almost 20 years and certainly the conversation long before that, but we
haven’t seen significant change across the board. I saw this image making the rounds of
social media in the last few weeks. It says, ‘equal rights for others did
not mean less rights for you. It’s not pie.’ And this really resonated with me and
no small part because I love pie. And on the surface this notion that
equal rights for others does not mean less rights for use seems like one we
can all stand behind. Giving me the right to vote does
not take away your ballot. Then I got to thinking, are equal
rights in sport and physical activity actually more like pie? The reality is is that resources, for
example funding, facilities, coaching, gym or ice time are limited
and organizations have a number of competing priorities, for example
revenue generation versus serving the community’s needs, program decision
making based on demand and other priority groups and certainly there
is sometimes a sense of been there done that with respect to
gender equity. So, I dug a little deeper and found
this quote, ‘equality does not mean that if you eat an apple I
must also eat one. It means that both of us have the
right to eat apples but if I do not feel like eating one, I have the
right not to do so.’ And I thought, okay, this is digging
down to the core of the issue and the notion of choice but I asked myself again,
what if girls and young women don’t like apples? The challenge here is that some
people excuse low participation rates with the argument that girls and
young women don’t like sport and physical activity or don’t like the
apple they’d rather do arts and crafts programs or read or hang out
at the mall with their friends. However, instead of assuming girls
don’t like sport and physical activity, we need to consider what if
girls just don’t like the sport and physical activity experiences
that we are providing. We need to take a close look at those
experiences and evaluate their quality. We need to ask if we are truly making
the healthy choices, the easy choices. So, what does this mean? I love this first quote from Gandhi,
it reads, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’ If you believe in gender equity how
is this reflected in your own practice at work and home? People for changes, is the campaign
slogan for this year’s International Women’s Day and I think
it applies here. Be bold at work with colleagues, with
friends and question comments and decisions that do not respect the
needs, interests, and experiences of girls and women. If equity and inclusion are values
espoused by your organization, how are they put into practice? Achieving gender equity requires more
than just good intentions. Finally, I encourage you all to
download and complete the gender equity assessment tool
available from CAAWS. It’s a relatively quick, simple way
to assess gender equity in your organization that look at programs,
policies, leadership and the environment and that link, as well as
many others that I’ll talk about, are available at the end of
the presentation. So, I promise it won’t be this
philosophical for our whole time together, things will get a little
bit more light and fluffy but will stay relatively deep for a
few more slide. The second barrier I want to talk
about relates to persisting social norms. The reality in Canada, considering
those stats I started with, is that active lifestyles are not the norm. Myths and misunderstandings about
physical activity continue to restrict girls and young
women’s participation. Some girls are still taught or learn
from a variety of sources that physical activity can be harmful to
their health, that their uterus can fall out, that they shouldn’t sweat,
that they’re having a heart attack if the heart is racing from
physical exertion. And as the ParticipAction campaign
demonstrated some parents believe one hour of participation per week in a
structured program is active enough for their child. Overall, sport is still considered the
domain of men and boys and not only in diverse
ethno-cultural communities. And men’s sport, often men’s
professional sport, is still used as a yardstick by which other sport and
athletic pursuits are measured. Finally, there is a persisting
conflict between notion of femininity and athleticism. There are a number of important
takeaways on this point. One is to check your own
biases and assumptions. We have to constantly remind
ourselves is that many of us are the converted; our experiences and our
passion for sport and physical activity are not shared by all. To keep it real, think about a friend
who despite their best interest or best intentions, can’t seem to fit
the trip to the gym or the child in your program that seems to be
allergic to movement. We need all the more understanding
and sympathetic and we need to ensure our own ingrained biases don’t
rear their ugly heads. We need to suspend judgment on
ourselves and others. We need to keep going back to those
stats I’ve shared at the beginning of the session to remind ourselves that
there is still work to do. Second, we need to stop
preaching to the choir. If we’re going to be successful in
getting girls and young women and all Canadians active, we need to develop
partnerships with non-traditional organizations and leverage their
network support and experiences to influence change. We need to integrate physical
activity in all programs, not just sport and physical activity programs
to normalize active living for girls and young women. The benefits of physical activity for
stress reduction, concentration and self-regulation are well known and
can be used to sell non-sport and physical activity types on the
benefits of active breaks. The notion of snacking on physical
activity is one we can spread to the masses by integrating something
active at the beginning midpoint or end of any program. Fourth, we need to talk more about
the high impact outcomes from participation like mental health and
leadership skills and link to this we need to teach girls and young women
the skills to process their experience so they identify the value
of participation in their own life. Finally, to address the conflict
between femininity and athleticism, we need to teach girls how to
identify with both. It doesn’t have to be
one or the other. It amazed me the number of my super
active friends who don’t identify as athletes. And while this label certainly isn’t
necessary, I think the more women and girls who identify with this and own
it, the more it will contribute to influencing social change and
redefining sport and physical activity in Canada. The third barrier relates
to research gaps. How much do we actually know about
sport and physical activity habits of Canadians? In Canada, we do have some strong
surveillance tools such as the Canadian Health Measures survey, but
the availability of research based on accelerometery versus pedometers
versus program registration versus self-reported minutes of physical
activity per day has definitely created some confusion in the sector. These different stats tell
different stories. The stat that only 6% of girls are
physically active makes a compelling argument for action. In contrast, reporting that 70% of
girls are involved in a sports, based on findings from the physical
activity and sport monitor, which capture parent reported involvement
in structured programs, may not suggest the need for
immediate action. Considering staff and evaluation at
the community or organization level, many programs rely on registration or
turnstile clicks as indicators of participation without considering how
active participants are within the program or the quality of
their experience. And we need to invest in drawing out
the nuances of the data. Are soccer and swimming the most
popular sports for girls because that’s what they love or because
that’s what was available in their community or what has been deemed
socially appropriate? And there are knowledge gaps about
what interventions or physical activity programs work to influence
girls and women’s behavior and attitudes and behavior and attitudes
of their parents and coaches. And there’s a huge gap in what works
to influence the systemic change needed to achieve gender equity. Finally, with what research and data
does exist many practitioners find it hard to wade through and make sense
of the available information or more often the data sits on server at
Stats Can in reporting templates in government offices or in academic
journals without being effectively disseminated. In terms of takeaways, I wrote on the
slide here is to advocate for better surveillance data and I think there’s
definitely a case to be made for long-term implementation of
consistent measures and a deeper dive on qualitative research. But I think the bigger opportunity is
actually to advocate for better knowledge translation and
dissemination of available data so that the information can be used to
support changes in policy and practice. Certainly the Canadian Fitness and
Lifestyle Research Institute and the Sport Information Resource Center are
contributing to this. Within our organizations, we also
need to make a commitment to invest in high quality program evaluations
so that we understand what the data is actually telling us and to go a
step further and implement suggested changes to support participation. The fourth persisting issue is the
continued relegation of girls only programs as special or one off. Unfortunately, these programs are
often the pet project of a single individual and often lack buy-in from
staff decision-makers and volunteers. They also often lack sustainable
funding to build on success and develop relationships with the target
audience or key partners. Rather than providing girls and young
women with the quality stand alone experience tailored to their needs
and interests, these programs are sometimes seen as compensatory or as
stepping stones into real or mainstream programs which are often
coed or focused on a specific sport. A few key takeaways here – first sport
and physical activity organization need to embed gender equity
as a core value. Girls and women are 50% of the
population of valuable untapped markets. As program providers, we need to value
diverse programming to meet diverse needs and interests and we need to
throw out notions of what real sport and physical activity is. Third, we need to invest in targeted
programs reallocating resources to ensure the long-term success. And perhaps most importantly building
on the last section on research gaps, we need to invest in program
evaluation that will provide insights into the value of programs for girls
and young women and then use that information to make the
case for change. The final persisting issue I want to
discuss is the pinkification of programming for girls
and young women. Many if not all of you have heard
about this phenomenon most likely in the context of children’s toys. Pinkification refers to the trend of
hyper genderization of products and pursuits and results in the limiting
of children’s interest by promoting activities as suitable for
only one gender. This supports stereotypes and
ultimately creates striking differences in goals and perceived
opportunities between boys and girls. I’ve certainly seen some sport and
physical activity providers falling into this design track. It often starts with promotion and
recruitment strategies and spirals down from there. In the worst-case programs are
stripped of any real outcomes based on assumptions about girls
needs and interests. Instead of providing quality
opportunities for girls to build their skills to develop their
knowledge and establish a foundation for lifelong activity, these programs
reinforce stereotypes that girls aren’t interested in the sport or
physical activity, don’t want to be competitive and can’t cope with any
real physical demands. Unfortunately, these programs also
reinforce that conflict between femininity and athleticism. However, fast and female provides a
great take away example of pink done right. Started by Chander Crawford this
organization provides a variety of programming models for girls
and young women. Role model leaders provide quality
instructional opportunities in a positive and empowering environment
and the pink fast and female logo is paired with messaging that
girls can do anything. Certainly these comments are not
intended to disparage the color pink. I remember taking a women study
course in University and the prof sharing wisdom from her young
daughter who told her, “Feminists can wear pink too.” It’s more about ensuring we’re
supporting girls and young women to see the infinite possibilities in
life and for girls and their families to realize it’s much easier to
interact with the world in running shoes than in plastic high-heeled
Barbie shoes, regardless of whether you’re a princess dress or
shorts and a t-shirt. I’m going to pause here and take any
questions or comments that have come up. If you have anything add it to the
chat box and we will take a look. I think these two images are great. The first says, “a boy told me I
skated like a girl. I told him if he stated a little
faster he could too.” The second is from that 2006 Olympics
and shows the men’s hockey coach instructing his athletes to
play like girls. Any comments or questions from anyone
about any of the content so far. I see a few people typing. Calgary recreation says,
“Where do we start?” An honest question. There’s a lot of issues but I’ve
certainly provided some concrete solutions in those take
away messages. Maybe depending on the other
questions that come in at the end maybe I’ll think about the top three
actions might be in terms of where do you start. They’re coming in faster that I
can read them now. So, Laura says, “So, the point that
you’re making about pinkification is that female geared program should
still be focused on quality participation not just geared towards
female as a marketing pitch.” Absolutely, that is exactly the point
and I think sometimes we so distracted by recruiting girls and
telling them they’re going to have fun and be with their friends and those are
all things that if any of you have done workshops with me in the past,
that is what absolutely what I talk about, but it’s when those things
take over the program instead of us actually thinking about what are the
outcomes that are going to support the health and long-term
participation of girls for the rest of their life?
That should be, you know, really what those programs are about. So, Sabrina asks the question about,
“How does this relate to unstructured play?” Certainly, off the top of my head,
one of the pieces is that girls are often, I gave an example of this in
the last few weeks, we’re still dressing up girls in little dresses
and telling them you need to just there and not get your dress dirty
rather then encouraging them to go and explore and be physically active
and learn about their body and how it works and so I think that in terms of
unstructured play that is what we need to do as parents and aunts and
grandparents and whoever that we’re giving girls opportunities to go and
explore and, you know, really value what their body can do through
unstructured play experiences. See if there’s one more
that I can go to. I think that’s good for now. There is an example from Jen about
examples of any other organizations doing a great job of offering
programs to girls 6 to 12 and I think on that, you know, certainly there’s
lots of great examples and for drama and interest I’ve kind painted a
worst-case scenario in some situations but I think it’s a
question of whether as parent or as program providers who may be, you
know, evaluating your own program that you’re involved in or
recommending others, it’s really looking at, you know, how is the
program set up? What kind of environmental?
What kind of outcomes have been identified and support the
development and delivery of the program? So, certainly there’s lots of great
programs everywhere. I’ll see if I can think of another
specific example of a more national or provincial case but there are
certainly lots of great programs in communities across the country. Certainly it’s still an issue, which
we would easily argue that there are lots of good ideas or
some good ideas. Alright, so I’m going to move on but
certainly if you have questions or comments add them in there
as we go along. And just going to confirm for
everyone the slides will be sent out at the end with the evaluation for
the webinar so you’ll have access to all of these. Okay, so in terms of new
opportunities. New opportunities, so what have I
seen or what has gotten me excited or that I think are new concepts that
can reframe the narrative that we often use around girls and young
women or can open the doors to girls and young women in new ways. The first opportunity is physical
literacy and this is perhaps the biggest buzzword in the sport and
physical activity sector today. So, the International Physical
Literacy Association has defined physical literacy as the motivation,
confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value
and take responsibility for engagement in physical
activities for life. It’s important to note that many
people think that physical literacy just happens naturally. In reality, although many children
develop good physical skills on their own there are many who do not. Children need to learn physical
literacy in a wide range of settings and from many people most importantly
from parents and guardians but also for teachers and instructors and
others and often these, going back to that comment or question about
unstructured play, often at those younger ages it’s through
unstructured play that children learn and develop physical literacy. Physical Literacy affects the health
and engagement of girls and women across the lifespan. Physically skilled children often
enjoy vigorous healthy play while less skilled children are often left
out and adults with physical literacy have the skills and motivation to
join a league or head out for a walk or run or bike or ski and those
without physical activity or physical literacy often do not have that same
motivation intrinsic motivation to make that healthy choice. I mentioned earlier the gender gap
and the acquisition of movement skills described by the research at
the University of Manitoba. Current research being led by
McMaster in partnership with Ophea is exploring these trends and testing
the effectiveness of an intervention to address that gender gap. One of the interesting pieces of the
research for me was reference to relation inferred self-efficacy or
the belief in someone else’s belief in your ability to do something. This is particularly relevant to
girls and young women who value social connection and cohesion. Feedback, mentoring and general
encouragement from peers or instructors can be a useful tool to
increase girls motivation and enjoyment within physical
activity context. So, two takeaways here – if you’re
looking for an area of investments, investing in the development of girls
physical literacy is going to be a big bang for your buck supporting
lifelong participation and going back to thinking about chronic disease
prevention and all these things this is where it starts. Luckily funders and decision-makers
are climbing on board and making this a priority which often comes with
funding but of course remember to use the funding to support and then to
build support and sustainability to provide quality
long-term programming. Some of you may be familiar with
Sport EnglandThis Girl Cancampaign and program. I heard about the program in depth at
last year’s Sport Canada Research Initiative Conference. The health promotion program
targeting women as a strategy to significantly improve physical
activity rates in England not only to get this demographic group active but
also recognizing their impact on the physical activity habits of
their families. The program involved long-term
comprehensive surveillance data but also in-depth qualitative research
about women’s experiences. Examining the barriers, researchers
conceptualized women’s experience around fear of judgment about their
appearance, about their skill level, and about the priorities. So, should they be at work or taking
care of the family instead of taking time for themselves being
physically active? Reading and hearing about this model
certainty didn’t reveal any new barriers I hadn’t considered but what
really struck me with the simplicity of the framing. What’s more, the model is being used
to support community organizations and service providers to improve the
quality of their programs based on the findings. So, swimming was identified by women
had a top activity of interest. So, Sport England has worked with
community pools to ensure staff are welcoming and nonjudgmental of women
coming into the pool. So, certainly they heard stories
about women being looked up and down and asked if they could even swim
which I’m sure unfortunately happens more regularly in Canada than
we want to admit. The pools also ensured that change
rooms were clean and had hairdryers available which again speaks to some
of the barriers that women were confronting and they installed hooks
on the pool deck so that women could drop their towels poolside rather
than having to walk across the deck in just their swimsuit. So, the takeaways here is to
challenge yourself to identify ways to address the known barriers that
girls and young women confront. Ask yourself why informal policies
and practices exist and who’s interest they serve. What small tweaks can be made to have
a big impact on the participation of underserved groups. Installing curtains in pools and gyms
so girls and women have privacy is a great example of this. I noticed that just last week’s Sport
England released a second public service announcement or video for the
campaign and there’s a link to the first one, which is great at the end
of the presentation, and I’ll add a link to the second one in the
chat box before we end. So, the third opportunity, so the
notion of on and off ramps or ‘athlete’ transitions is another
important opportunity to support girls and young women participation. Often, especially with the wide
uptake of long-term athlete development, we think about athlete
transitions as kind of a one-way journey from an excellent path to a
more recreational or active for life type of involvement. In reality these transition are and
should be much more complex. Athlete transitions for all kinds of
reasons between; sports and activities, across competition levels
from competitive recreational or from recreational to competitive if
interest allows, after deselection, which is an issue in small
communities or in schools that may field only one team or with the
proliferation of rep and development teams, after injury and I’ve had the
pleasure of working with Vicki Harbor of U of A who talks about three types
of injury; mechanical, energetic and psychosocial injury or
injury of the heart. I worked with her to develop an info
graphic about these types of injuries and will give you a link to that. And athlete burnout is another type
of injury and is a growing concern especially as those kids are
pressured to specialize at younger and younger ages. We also need to consider transitions
into leadership roles as coaches, officials, teachers or administrators
and before afterlife events, for example moving communities,
transitioning into new schools, transitioning into middle school and
high school, or even the death of a parent and how that could impact
girls and young women’s participation. Considering these transitions that
our goals to get and keep girls and young women active, I like to imagine
this is more of a big knot that isn’t impossible for them to
transition out. There are a number of important
takeaways here. For parenting and program leaders and coaches, we need to adopt
a multisport program that provides girls and young women with a variety
of experiences to fuel teacher interest. We need to talk about issues
before it’s too late, whether it’s about motivation, injury or the
fit between athletes and coaches style. We need to stop issues from
spiralling out of control. For coaches and leaders, think about
extending invitations and staying in touch with athletes who have stepped
away from a team club or regular program ensuring they feel that they
can come back easily. Of course, we need to integrate
leadership development by providing training and certification programs,
linking girls with mentors and talking to them about leadership. And we need to build their navigation
skills so girls and young women understand their options and have the
skills and tools to have sport and physical activity in whatever
capacity in way as part of their life forever. At an organizational level,
collaboration between organizations and clubs on multisport programs,
triad opportunities or even cross training for sport club the programs
can ensure girls are familiar with the variety of opportunities in their
community and where to access other programs. And a final comment for those on the
sport side about sharing athletes – I’ve heard recently about stories
about teams or clubs being reluctant to support athletes in transitioning
either for fear of competition because the athlete goes to a
different club or because of of reduced income because they lose
that athlete’s fees. And of course the best interest of
the athlete should always be top of mind. The fourth opportunity deals with
social connection and cohesion. These are developmentally appropriate
and culturally constructed needs that most girls and women experience and
from the strengths-based approach these contribute to the development
of valuable leadership skills for girls later in life. Supporting positive relationships and
strong bonds within programs and teams will improve
motivation and retention. Activity ideas include icebreakers
and cooperative games, fun practices like team cheers, high fives and circle
debriefs, peer mentoring, the development of a code of conduct that
identifies values important to the group and ongoing communication. Of course, all of this should enhance
the other characteristics and outcomes of your program not
be the sole focus. However, there is another component
of social connection and cohesion I want to talk about and this is the
conflict between the desire for cohesion and the desire to
be competitive. Often I hear the girls don’t like to
be competitive and many girls programs do everything they can to
remove competition from girls programming. However, I believe that the real
issue is the girls aren’t given the skills to navigate the fine line
between these two priorities. Competition is natural and developing
a healthy sense of competition and strong coping strategies for winning
and losing are essential skills. The takeaways here are first to
validate and encourage girls competitive spirit if any of have
organized games with kids and told them you’re not keeping score, you’ve
probably already realized that most kids know who won and who lost. So, paired with this is to help
girls understand and navigate this values conflict. Whether as a team or as a
parent, focus on task and skill mastery and personal goals when
talking about her experience rather than a sole focus on did your
team win or lose. Value personal bests and
accomplishments in addition to athlete rankings. So, depending on the sport. And celebrate the benefits when
individuals perform well. Ensure girls see that their teammates
performance helps them perform well, too. Finally, I want to talk about the
importance of women as role models and leaders. The Rio Olympics saw amazing
performances by Canadian women who won 16 of our 22 medals. These athletes are valuable role
models for all Canadians, not just other girls and women. Campaigns like Cover the Athlete and
Athletes Pointing Out, gender inequities have challenged the media to raise
the bar on the amount and quality of coverage for women athletes which
outside of the Olympics Games periods remains around 5 to 10% of
national print coverage. There were two great examples of
athletes challenging the media in the last year. First, Canadian sprint kayaker Adam
van Koeverden who criticized CBC color commentator Adam Kreek for
questioning Eugenie Bouchard’s commitment to winning in an open
letter that was published in the National Post and tennis sensation
Andy Murray who, when it was suggested by BBC commentator that he
was the first person to ever win two Olympic tennis golds, pointed out
pointed out that Venus and Serena Williams each had four. It’s important to remember that
unfortunately successful female athletes aren’t necessarily a sign
that times have changed and that many of these athletes have succeeded at
the highest levels despite the barriers they’ve confronted. Examining women in leadership
positions, women remain underrepresented as administrators,
coaches and officials. For example, only 17% of Canadian
University head coaches are women and women hold 38% of senior staff
positions and only 29% of board positions in national and
multisport organization. The lack of women’s voices in these
positions and around decision-making tables limits understanding of girls
and women’s experiences and affects decision-making. And research clearly
shows that diverse boards are more effective and innovative.>>Sydney, I also just wanted to flag
that there was a comment in the chat just mentioning that there also
some amazing women that won at the paralympics, as well.>>Absolutely. Ya, I looked at the
stats around that and what we’re seeing with the
Canadian team is that the males and females athletes on the teams are
almost equal in Canada, which is great, although there is still
significant gaps in the coaching side. For example in the Paralympics in
terms of the composition of male and female athletes there’s still work to
do but that’s a complicated piece as well for a variety of issues. So, in terms take aways, the
Misrepresentation documentary and Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean in Movement
have made this quote quite famous, “you can’t be what you can’t see.” We have an opportunity to increase
the profile and number of women involved in sport and physical
activity as role models and leaders this will inspire the
next generation. Second, from a modified line from our
prime minister, “It’s 2017.” It’s time to dust off those policies and
implement. Take stock of the number of women involved in various
capacities. Set goals for recruitment and take action. And CAUSE has a practical one-page
resource about the recruitment and retention and recognition
of women leaders. Finally, I’ve mentioned this
previously it’s important that we support girls and young women and
future leaders to talk about and follow inspirational leaders in your
community and through the media, to connect them with leadership
opportunities, whether it’s at school, with their club or elsewhere
in the community, to promote training and certification opportunities to
give them skills and confidence to pursue their interests. And I’m going to stop there. So, for everyone’s convenience, links
to a number of the programs and resources I mentioned have been
included as a slide in the deck which you’ll all be receiving via email. There’s a few more that I’m going to
post right now in the chat box. And at this point we have
about 10 left. I know Kristin has a few
wrap up slides. But I’m going to open it up to all of
you in the chat box if you have any questions about anything else I said,
ask away. Otherwise, I’m also curious to know
what other persisting issues and new opportunities are on your radar. How have you applied some of the
takeaways in your community or what other strategies have you used to
address the issue and what other resources you might recommend? This will be great to hear from you. So, there’s a few things
that have come in. So, Calgary Recreation asked another
question about the exposure and the recruitment and but wanting to get
away from that compensatory model and just this sole focus of helping girls
catch up so that they can participate with the boys. And I think that sometimes it’s just
a question about thinking about what are the intentions and what’s the
pathway that you’re paving for the girls and for some I think that if we
want to make a dent on this physical inactivity crisis that were
still experiencing that we need to make sure that that kids are learning
to love physical activity and see the benefits for themselves
from that intrinsic motivation. But, we need to give them a variety
of opportunities so to have a variety of programs and a variety of levels of
programs that are still quality but don’t necessarily say oh well, of
course the next step the goal of this program is to get you into a
structured sports program. You can’t have quality programs that
have quality outcomes that are hiking or that teach kids a variety of
outdoor active living type activities, so I think it’s just
about being intentional when were developing programs about motivation
to skill development to personal evaluation and having that value that
we want to see as a result of these programs rather than saying, okay
we’re going to offer this this dodgeball program and really the only
intention is to get kids in the gym and away from whatever else they are
doing and there’s no outcomes, just as an example. So, there’s a question here from Kara
about peer mentorship and if anyone has developed or delivered programs
and what some of your learnings have been. Sonia shared local class inspiration
in Medicine Hat called FIAME (Females in Action Moving and Empowering)
which is offering a female coach development mentorship program to
develop female leaders through sport and physical activity in
Southeastern Alberta. Great.
Ensuring that the participants have NCCP training free of charge which
will support them later. And one of the pieces too if you’re
doing coach development opportunities one of the gaps is we get all these women
trained up ready to go and then where are the opportunities for them to
actually apply those skills so connecting young women or women with
opportunities to coach, to team coach, to co-coach but to put those
new skills to the test or into action right away. Great.
Diane, says there’s a pilot gender equity project going on in BC with
a cross-section of different sports groups at the table. That’s great. Emily says, “Do you have any recommendations to improve the
perception of combat sports and women?” She says that we have a great role
models but often women join boxing clubs when they are way older than
men because parents have a negative image of the sport. I think with something like that,
there is a lot of social stigma around, you know, boxing isn’t
necessarily something that girls and women do and part of I think is the
environment and going in the boxing club that often in different
neighbourhoods or things like that or it’s more of a rough and tough versus
beautiful community centres and we have buildings in our communities
that are amazing beautiful spaces. So, I think that sometimes part of it
is giving girls or women an opportunity to experience boxing, you
know, where they are. So, is there an opportunity to
partner with an existing girls program to give them that opportunity
and bring them into the boxing club so that they can see it and
experience it, meet the people, understand what is involved in that
as a pursuit and then they would be more comfortable in saying that it
was really fun and I liked it and you know they have more knowledge to make
a decision about their participation. So, that’s one of the things
is that risk taking. If they’ve had negative experiences
they’re unlikely to sign up for a program that they think is going to
be the same bad programming that they’ve tried before or they are more
comfortable doing sports what they know of. So, in terms of introducing them to
new sports it’s connecting with those programs that have girls and giving
them the physical activities in those kind of safer comfortable
environments. Kristin, let me know if there’s any
other good ones that you’ve seen as they’ve come in.>>So, we can stay on the line for
anybody else who hasn’t had their questions answered and if we’ve
missed anything, please email PARC. I’ll just move over to where you can
see where the email is there. And also if you have to step out, the
evaluation link is in the chat box, as well. Did you see the one from Tara about
participation at age 12.>>Yup, do you want me to carry on?>>We’ll speak to that.
We’ll stay on the line and answer as much as we can but if people have to
step out, they can always email us.>>Thanks, everyone for signing up
and for listening and if you to have to go, absolutely take leave, but
otherwise we’ll will work our way as quickly as possible through some of
these questions for you.>>That sounds great. Thanks, Sydney.>>So, Tara says that she sees a
large drop in rates of girls participation at age 12 and are there
any specific reasons why this occurs at this particular age and should we
target programming to this critical age to keep girls in sports
through that transition. So, often that transition is related
to either puberty and girls bodies are changing and they’re becoming and
a lot of you mentioned that that self-consciousness and those body
image issues were becoming an issue and so as girls are developing
through adolescence, that is a huge barrier for them that they
don’t feel comfortable. They are much more self-aware and,
you know, putting themselves out there physically becomes a bit more
challenging for them if they’re not helped through and supported
through that transition. And, I think in terms of strategies
to do it, I think that certainly we want to try to get them young and get
them to understand the value of physical activity before that age
groups so that either they have the resilience to motor through those
transition or if it does cause them to drop off, then they have that
strong foundation so that they can come back they can navigate back and
take that onramp back into sport and physical activity. But at that age, as well, you also
mentioned the competing priorities as one of the big issues for girls. So, you know, around that age they’re
either going into middle school or transitioning to high school, there
is more competition for school, for their friends and spending time with
them, from other pursuits, so those things, as well, kind of conspire to
where does physical activity fall on the list? So again, as parents and as people
with relationships with girls and young women it’s helping them to
develop the skills to cope, to manage their time and again to see the value
of physical activity in their life and what it brings to them compared
to some of those other pursuits or priorities that emerge.>>There was another question that
came in around although they have a couple of female or girls focused
programs their program is mostly co-ed and they do have more boys or
males in the program. Do you have any suggestions for
encouraging more girls or females to attend these co-ed program?>>Ya, certainly co-ed programs if
done right and if done from an early age there’s nothing
wrong with that but I think that it’s again about providing
diverse opportunities. The research that McMaster is looking
at for girls the number one barrier to participation with the boys
is in their attitude. So, we need to respect that. Within those programs we need to make
sure that the dynamics are positive in that we’re demonstrating what
inclusive and equitable participation looks like and make sure that none of
those kind of stereotypes or assumptions about girls versus boys
competence or skill or strength are coming into play and affecting how
we’re instructing or leading or coaching those situations. I think that sometime there’s a piece
for educating parents about co-ed programs and what they are if
they might think, oh well, my daughter doesn’t want to go in the
co-ed programs and it’s going to be too competitive or whatever, you know
those types of situations. So, communicating with parents about
that and again it depends on the age. Ellen, there was something else
I was thinking, too. And I think thinking about how you
manage the kids in those sports. If you have a lot of kids how do they
divide them up into different groupings? Getting them to self-select into
different levels of play and getting them to self select into different
activities and I think that if we’re successful at creating an environment
where girls and boys feel empowered to make choices based on their own
interests it supports the boys in being more active too because, of
course, in some of those co-ed programs some of the boys are
struggling just as much the some of the girls and some of the girls are
super competitive and skilled and you know they want to be there
participating with the boys because they think that’s the best
opportunity for them. So, you know, some of those co-ed
programs is the opportunity to provide more diverse offerings that
are going to appeal to a wide variety of both girls and boys. Maybe wasn’t the most succinct answer
but lots of suggestion there. Anything else?>>There’s another one from Tara. What would you suggest as strategies
to create buy in within a sport organization for gender equality as a
core value for sustainable funding, for gender specific data
and evaluation?>>What actions would you do that?>>Strategies. Yes.>>I think that, you know, looking at
what the stats are in your community around participation, around not only
participation but what activities are girls and women actually
participating in? So, one of the things that we found
was that some communities said we’ve looked at our registration stats and
girls and boys are like males and females and have the same
participation rates. But you actually looked at what
activities were and girls and women were involved in inactive programs
and the boys and men they were involved in the sport and
physical activity stuff. So, it’s really doing your homework
to understand what is going on in your community beyond
your organization. What opportunities are there and
what’s the quality of them? And then looking at what the
organization’s policies are and what their stated values or goals and
mission statement is? And looking, are those
things consistent? If they have goals to be inclusive
and gender equitable and to serve the needs of the whole community is that
reflected in how you know programming is happening, funding decisions
are being made etc.>>And I’ll just ask anybody’s who’s
questions we’re answering now, if we haven’t answered the questions then
just let us know again in the chat. We do have a few more if you’re still
okay to stay on the line, Sydney? There’s a question from Celeste about
how might we convince the media to stray away from the
sexuality of athletes.>>Ya, I think that the Cover the
Athletes Campaign, so I sent it in those links that I sent in the
chat box, it’s there. And it you might have seen it making
the rounds and it’s what they did was they asked male professional athletes
all of the questions that you female athetes get. Asking them Eugenia Bouchard is
getting give us a little spin or how do you fix your hair after a game or
asking them about their personal life and things like that. I think that strategy which kind of
pokes fun at the ridiculousness of the media and the differences in how
they treat these athletes can be really useful and again the male
athletes, as well, speaking up and saying this is ridiculous, I think
is really valuable. You know the CAAWS hosted a lunch and
learn in the last few months and was looking at this issue of media and
your something to remember is what the media commentator said was that
these networks are there to make money and what makes the money is
male professional sport. So, there’s certainly a lot to demand
more equitable coverage but I think it’s looking at what the other way
that we can consume women, if you looking at you live coverage, is
there online sources of those things that you can use to monitor it,
for example. And that’s what, during the panel
that CAAWS hosted, one of the things he said. They suggested was find those sports
and really support them through however they are
broadcasting that sport. But I think that in terms of print
and online information, especially from CBC which is it isn’t supposed
to have that same mandate for making money, I think it’s there’s value in
having the constant reminders that these are the types of sports that we
want to see and this is the level and quality of coverage of female
athletes that we want and calling media when they make gaps and are
sexist, which we did see a lot of at the Rio games, to point out that
it is not acceptable anymore.>>Thank you, that’s great. I think we only have one or two left
here. The next one is from Sabrina. Can you
identify the barriers to girls participating in outdoor play and how
we address these barriers?>>Well, there’s a current link to
unstructured play maybe that I mentioned before. I think with outdoor play, a lot of
it is these issues for organizations in terms of legality or risk
management in terms of sending kids outside in the freezing cold
temperatures that we have in Canada so that is definitely a barrier and
having those practices and having instructors or leaders or caregivers
that want to suit a bunch of kids up to go outside and you know whether
rainy or cold weather. But I think a lot of it is looking at
parents and how can we encourage them to kick kid out the front door and
whether it’s a real situation or not there is perceptions that our
communities just aren’t as safe anymore as they used to be and is
certainly and in some communities that is definitely the case and that
really shuts people inside but then you also hear, I think it was in
Canada and I think it was in the news that there is one family who the kids
were outside playing and the next door neighbour called children’s aid
that the kids were outside unsupervised playing in the backyard
which was fenced in. So, I think that the issues are
complicated and I think that a lot of us remember back when we were kids
and we were all running wild and came home when the streetlights turned on
and I’d like to think that we will get back to that but that’s just not
an option right now and so I think it’s a big piece is around education
and really valuing being outside and with nature for what it can
contribute to the kids lives and the lives of their family.>>There is that comment here about
buddy systems within programs for girls. An example would be, in karate they
wear white, so if you have a buddy to watch out for you during menstruation
issues, that can help you participate fully knowing that
somebody has your back.>>Ya, for sure.>>So, I think we’ve answered
all the questions. Thank you so much, Sydney for staying
on the line and thank you to all the participants today for sharing your
ideas, your strategies, your experiences. It’s been a great webinar. So, thank you everybody
for your participation and thank you Sydney for
sharing with us.>>Ya, my pleasure. Thanks everyone.

Stephen Childs

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