As the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup draws a stadium-level spotlight on women’s sport, academics and sport management leaders will converge at Griffith University to acknowledge past progress and envision future change on and off the field.
The symposium marks a celebration of the growing global momentum to propel women in all sports-related settings, whilst interrogating the research-based, ongoing inequities that restrict opportunities for women and gender diverse athletes.
Chair of the Sport and Gender Equity (SAGE) research hub Professor Simone Fullagar said the FIFA World Cup provides a crucial platform for global conversations about valuing women’s sporting capabilities on their own terms.
“Sportswomen worldwide have been fighting for greater professionalisation, equity in prize money, and respect both within and beyond sport,” she said.
“Players bear the cost of this gender inequity in terms of the energy, lost income and invisible emotional labour directed towards changing sexist structures and cultures.
“The Matildas are staking a claim for gender equality as the legacy of this FIFA World Cup.
“They recognise the gains made through increased visibility of women on the pitch can be easily lost when the global spotlight turns off as the tournament ends.”
With a string of major sporting events arriving in Australia, including the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, conversations around advancing social change and legacy will be paramount.
Joining the panel alongside award-winning journalist Tracey Holmes is Griffith’s Dr Adele Pavlidis whose work in investigating intersectional inequities in sport participation for girls, women and non-binary people has received major funding from the Australian Research Council.
“At the heart of the conference is an explicit acknowledgement of the gendered power relations that shape women and gender diverse people’s sporting experiences,” she said.
“This is both at the elite level and at the community level.”
Combining perspectives from researchers and sports leaders at different career stages across countries, the goal to elevate the status of women’s sport holds global gravitas.
Dr Pavlidis said gender inequality needs to be understood beyond a single issue to include a better understanding of the intersection with class, ethnicity, Indigenous culture, disability, age, location and sexuality.
“Stars such as Sam Kerr and Megan Rapinoe (USA) have contributed to the global conversation about LGBTQIA+ inclusion yet FIFA has ignored player calls to approve an identifiable One Love captain’s armband, opting instead for a more generalised ‘inclusion’ category,” she said.
“Women’s football is more than a brand or product; it is a social movement that connects with a huge range of causes and issues as a force for change across the globe.”
Professor Fullagar said there is a need for structures and investment to support participation growth that considers development opportunities for women coaches, referees and leaders at all levels.
“With more than one and a half million tickets sold and record-breaking global audiences, the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be a demonstration of an exciting sporting spectacle, one that is worth investing in,” Professor Fullagar said.
“While we enjoy the display of extraordinary skill and the excitement that comes with this World Cup, let’s celebrate what these athletes represent beyond athleticism – social justice, change and hard-won opportunities.”
With more than 25 years of trailblazing research in the field of female athlete health and sporting excellence, Griffith continues to drive investment where it matters.
Read ‘Will gender equality be the legacy of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup?’ from Professor Fullagar and Dr Pavlidis here.