Dr Katie Liston: Gender gap persists in sport more than in other sectors

"I think for too long sport has lagged behind in some ways in terms of those cultural changes"

ball, football

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

This week's events around the Ireland Women's National Football Team has raised the important issue of adequate support and backing for all genders in Irish sport.

On Thursday night's Off The Ball, Dr Katie Liston, a Senior Lecturer at Ulster University, explained the need for a wider cultural shift on issues related to representation and equality.

"We need society level perspectives that harness that cultural shift and the public support that is behind this particular group of women at the moment," said Liston referencing the Irish women's football team.

"I think for too long sport has lagged behind in some ways in terms of those cultural changes and sport reflects gender values but equally it has an important role to play in challenging those and national governing bodies like the FAI and others - it's not just about the FAI tonight - but all of us have to show that sport can actually have an element of cultural traction."

Liston feels there should be nothing to hold back discussing and tackling the issues head on in order to bring about a sea change in culture.

"We don't need to apologise anymore. There are objective facts that show that participation in sport, whether it's pay gaps or the fact that we need more women in representative roles and decision making committees at the higher levels of sport, we can talk about those without being embarrassed. We don't have to apologise," she said.

"Equally we don't have to become PR machines to say that whatever group it might be has done A, B and C to further the position of women in sport. We know this but we need to call it for what it is, which is that there is much more work to be done because the gender gap persists in sport in my view more than in other sectors."