Women in leadership in Scottish sport

Ryan Brown, Paula Murray, Fiona Beth Doran (Contributor), Jack Templeton (Contributor), Jamie Mack (Contributor)

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Scottish sport has been on a path of improvement in tackling the gender gap in many areas of governance and delivery, but perceptions of significant change appear not to be matched by the reality; policy commitment not replicated in practice.

The presence of female leaders in sport has been visible in the past decade with the increasing promotion of women in high-profile roles, from tennis coach Judy Murray and football manager Shelley Kerr to Scottish Government sport ministers Aileen Campbell, Mairi Gougeon and Maree Todd; Netball Scotland CEO Claire and Scottish Rugby and Cricket Scotland appointing their fi rst-ever female presidents in Dee Bradbury and Sue Strachan, respectively.

Yet, at the current pace of change it would take almost 25 years to achieve gender equality in leadership roles across Scottish sport. That is a sobering reality to emerge from this research conducted by the Observatory for Sport in Scotland (OSS) in partnership with Scottish Women in Sport (SWiS), with support from sportscotland, sport governing bodies, Community Leisure UK and other stakeholders.

This research seeks to inform and deepen understanding of the representation of women in leadership roles across Scottish sport. It is a limited study, conducted during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-21, which severely restricted face-to-face contact and travel. It focuses specifically on women’s roles within Scottish Governing Bodies (SGBs) and leisure trusts, chiefly responsible for the administration of sport and leisure, and includes key national umbrella organisations. Data from a total of 85 organisations was analysed with CEOs or senior management staff from 31 SGBs taking part in the more detailed qualitative interviews. This research did not investigate delivery at a local level in Scotland, due to the complexity and differences that exists across each of the 32 local authority areas, nor the management of local sports clubs across Scotland and private sector facilities. These are areas being considered for future research.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherObservatory for Sport in Scotland
Commissioning bodyScottish Women in Sport
Number of pages47
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


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