Minister Martin and Minister Byrne welcome further increase in female representation on sporting boards

 01 Dec 2023

The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, and the Minister of State for Sport and Physical Education, Thomas Byrne TD,  have welcomed the publication by Sport Ireland of the latest snapshot of female representation on the boards of funded National Governing Bodies of Sport and Local Sports Partnerships and other funded bodies.  

The overall percentage of women on boards in the sports sector in Ireland stands at 42%. For the first time, there is female representation on the board of every funded sporting organisation in the country.

The snapshot is published as part of the Leadership & Governance pillar of the Sport Ireland Women in Sport Policy and outlines the current position and progress made since the policy was first published in 2019.

Significant progress has been made since 2019 when females made up an average of only 24% of boards in the sector.  The last snapshot, published in November 2022, had seen this figure increase to 36%, and today Sport Ireland can confirm that the figure is now at 41% overall for the NGBs (and other sporting bodies). 48 NGBs have reached the Government target of 40% (or more) females on their board while 19 LSPs have also reached the target. The overall LSP figure now stands at 43% overall, a 4% increase from November 2022.

While good progress has been made by some, there is still quite a way to go for others. 23 NGBs have not met the 40% target with four of these having less than 20% female representation on their boards. 10 LSPs are yet to reach the 40% target.

As stated by Minister of State, Thomas Byrne TD, sporting bodies that do not reach the 40% target by the end of the year will have their state funding cut by up to 50%.  Any such cuts will remain in place until such time as the 40% target is achieved by the sporting body. This cut will not apply to funding for Women in Sport programmes. It should be noted that a number of sporting bodies have made administrative arrangements and structural changes to allow them to meet the 40% target in the coming period.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, TD welcomed the progress reflected in the snapshot: 

We are seeing consistent growth in female representation year on year, and I am pleased to see the average number of females on NGB boards increase from 36% this time last year to a41% now. We also see another key sign of progress with female representation on every board for the first time. I would like to reiterate the need for sporting bodies below 40% to make the target an immediate priority. Boardrooms should be representative of our society and reflect modern Ireland, through proportionate gender membership. The 40% target is crucial, because it is important for women to be seen and heard at the decision-making table”.

Minister for Sport and Physical Education, Thomas Byrne TD, commented: 

I want to acknowledge and commend the efforts of many sporting bodies to increase female representation on their boards, and it is apparent from the latest figures, that many sporting bodies have made this area a priority. Female representation at all levels of sport is crucial if we are to increase female participation and retention in sport. For those organisations who are yet to meet the target, there is still time to do so before the end of the year and I would encourage them all to do so.”

Sport Ireland CEO, Dr Una May, commented;

"2023 has been another year of significant progress for female representation in governance and leadership positions, a key objective outlined in Sport Ireland’s updated Women in Sport policy in November, and we would like to acknowledge the effort that has gone in by the sector at all levels to deliver this”. The decision-making processes in governing bodies should reflect the communities they serve.  There is still a way to go for some National Governing Bodies & Local Sports Partnerships and Sport Ireland will continue to work closely with these organisations to assist them in reaching the 40% target.”

As well as acknowledging the board composition of funded bodies, Sport Ireland is also monitoring the proportion of women in leadership positions within funded bodies.

Sport Ireland Women in Sport Lead, Nora Stapleton, added:

It’s important to recognise the positive progress made by sporting organisations over the past year. For example, Cricket Ireland has progressed from 25% in November 2022 to 42% in this year’s snapshot, while other sports such as Athletics Ireland, Tennis Ireland, Mountaineering Ireland, Tug of War and Irish Lawn Bowls have all made huge efforts to achieve the 40% target this year. Similarly, we can see positive progress made by the LSPs. For example, South Dublin has progressed from 29% in 2022 to 50% in this year's snapshot while Louth has increased its female membership from 31% in 2022 to 42% this year.

The Sport Ireland Women in Sport Funding Programme can help NGBs, LSPs and other funded bodies on their journey of improving, and or maintaining, gender diversity on their board”.

Notes to Editor

Information correct at time of print. This data may change in the coming weeks / months as organisations have their AGMs (or other) and thus the percentage of women on their board may change.

The reference to ‘Irish sports sector’ refers to the 100 organisations included in the attached documents. The reference to ‘NGBs and other sporting bodies’ refers to Table 1.

For more information please contact: Sarah Stanley, Communications Executive at