New research reveals fewer girls considering careers as professional sportswomen

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  • Boys are four times more likely to want to be a full-time athlete than girls
  • Girls are twice as likely to want to be a social media influencer than a sports star
  • Boys are twice as likely to watch sports on TV as girls
  • Boys and girl are four times more likely to recognise male sports stars over females

Research released today by Harlequins reveals that, despite the growing profile of women’s sport in recent years, the majority of British schoolgirls wouldn’t consider a career as a professional sportswoman.

Harlequins’ survey of 1,000 school pupils across the UK found that boys are four times more likely to want to be a full-time athlete than girls, with girls being twice more likely to want to be a YouTube influencer than a sports star.

The research was conducted ahead of Harlequins’ Women’s showpiece annual fixture, The Game Changer. The game is Harlequins’ annual celebration of women’s sport which shines a light on the achievements of its women’s team and the Club’s ambition to achieve parity between the men’s and women’s games. Hosted during Easter weekend on Saturday 11 April (kick off 15.00), The Game Changer will see record crowds attend the Twickenham Stoop to watch Harlequins Women take on Wasps FC Ladies in the Tyrrells Premier 15s.

The results of the nationwide survey point to the lower profile of female athletes as a key contributor, with school pupils four times more likely to recognise male sports stars than females.

The findings show that low profile isn’t just impacting on future aspirations, but also participation in sport. Almost two thirds of girls questioned said that seeing more female sports stars on TV, magazines or on social media would inspire them to play more sport themselves.

Harlequins Women Club Captain and England international Rachael Burford commented: “As the saying goes; ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ and things need to change if schoolgirls are to be inspired by female sporting role models in the way boys are. It’s undeniable that the profile of women’s sport is on the rise, but our survey shows there’s still much more that needs to be done to influence the behaviours of young girls in this country.

“Women’s sport simply doesn’t get the coverage it deserves. Girls need to see female sports coverage to help give them the confidence that they can match boys in all areas of their lives.”

The Game Changer is a celebration of women’s sport and provides a platform to showcase the tireless dedication of the Harlequins Women’s players, with many managing their playing career alongside full-time employment. Harlequins is committed to pushing the boundaries of women’s sport and as well as celebrating the achievements of players. The Game Changer will provide a host of matchday activities for adults and children, making it an unmissable day out on the Easter weekend.

Harlequins is at the forefront of driving parity in women’s sport, and the attempt to make history once again with a record-breaking crowd for The Game Changer is just one example of the Club’s work in this area.

The Club’s Official Player Welfare Partner, Charles Stanley, and its Official Women’s Partner, MJ Hudson, are other examples of how the Club is working to increase the visibility of both the women’s game and Harlequins Women.

Burford continues: “I’m so proud of all the work that Harlequins does for women’s rugby, both on and off the field, and the increasing size of crowds watching our women’s games demonstrates the progress we are making. We hope that all Harlequins does will inspire others in sport to make the same commitment.

“The Game Changer is a highlight of our season and something the team really looks forward to. This year we have the added bonus that our opponents are a local rival. We’ve enjoyed some great battles with Wasps over the years, and I’m sure the game on April 11 will be an entertaining showcase of the women’s game for everyone.”

Head of Harlequins Foundation, Marc Leckie, added: “This research highlights the importance of getting more girls into sport – something that the Harlequins Foundation is proud deliver through our Switch coaching initiative and Switch into Sport leadership programme. Aimed at girls under 15, Switch into Sport helps to grow the next generation of leaders, teaching them how to co-deliver rugby festivals, lead tag rugby sessions and even referee.

“It’s how we encourage young women to interact with sport, and then, how we use sport to support them in other aspects of their life. It’s about encouraging them to be active citizens in society, and our entry point is through sport and through their engagement with sport.

“The Game Changer presents an opportunity for young girls to see real role models, up close and in action on the pitch. It can only encourage more and more of them to get involved and inspire the next generation.”

Rugby fans, families and those looking for an exciting day out will have the opportunity to be a part of history; not only by helping to break attendance records in women’s rugby, but by sending an important message about the potential for all women’s sport and helping Harlequins to change the sporting landscape.

For more information and to join what could be a record-breaking crowd at The Game Changer, visit: https://tickets.quins.co.uk.

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