Sport Ireland welcomes increase in female representation on sporting boards

 12 Apr 2024

Sport Ireland has published the latest snapshot of female representation on the boards of funded National Governing Bodies of Sport, Local Sports Partnerships, and other sporting funded bodies

The overall percentage of women on boards in the sport sector in Ireland now stands at 45%, a three per cent increase on the previous snapshot which marked the first time there was female representation on every board.

The Irish Rugby Football Union (33% to 41%), the Football Association of Ireland (36% to 43%) and the Gaelic Athletic Association (16% to 43%) have all surpassed 40% representation of females on their boards for the first time. 

The last snapshot, published in December 2023, showed an overall percentage increase to 42%. 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 significant progress made since the policy was first published in 2019. That year females made up an average of just 24% of boards of National Governing Bodies.

As outlined in the Sports Action Plan published by the Government, National Governing Bodies (NGBs), Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) and other funded bodies had until the end of 2023 to reach the Government’s target of a minimum 40% female representation in the membership of their boards. 

Overall female representation on the boards of NGBs and other sporting funded bodies has increased to 44% and for LSPs is up to 45. This represents a 3% and 2% increase on the previous snapshot. 

There are now 61 NGBs and other sporting bodies which have achieved the Government target, with only 10 organisations yet to do so. While there are 25 LSPs who have also reached the target, with only four still short of it. 

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

All boardrooms should be representative of our society and reflect modern Ireland, through proportionate female membership. In the past few months, NGBs and LSPs have been working hard as they look to increase the number of women on their boards. For example, Pitch and Putt Ireland (11% to 40%), the Irish Judo Association (13% to 50%), the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (13% to 46%), Olympic Handball Ireland (20% to 43%) and Donegal Sports Partnership (29% to 40%) have all made significant progress, which highlights their commitment to advancing women and girls in their sports.”

Minister of State for Sport, Physical Education and the Gaeltacht, Thomas Byrne TD, commented:

I welcome the continued progress that is being made with respect to female representation on sporting boards. This positive trajectory in sports leadership will enhance and strengthen our sporting community. I want to reiterate that sporting organisations which have yet to meet the 40% target will only be permitted to draw down 50% of their funding allocation until such a time, as they reach the 40% target.”

Sport Ireland CEO, Dr Úna May, commented:

There are now 86 of 100 funded National Governing Bodies of Sport, Local Sports Partnerships and other sporting funded bodies in Ireland who have met the target for gender representation on their boards. Since the release of the first snapshot in 2020, we have seen a continuous trend towards more gender-equal boards across sport in Ireland. This is crucial, as the decision-making processes in governing bodies should reflect the communities they serve. We would like to acknowledge the effort that has gone in to deliver this, and we will work closely with the sector at all levels to continue and maintain this progress.”

Sport Ireland Director of Strategic National Governing Body Programmes and Women in Sport Lead, Nora Stapleton, added:

This snapshot now includes figures from 100 sports organisations, including NGBs, LSPs, Sport Ireland, the Olympic Federation of Ireland, Paralympics Ireland, the Federation of Irish Sport, Student Sport Ireland, Active Disability Ireland, and Age & Opportunity. As well as acknowledging the board composition, Sport Ireland is also monitoring the proportion of women in leadership positions. It should be noted that a number of sporting organisations have made administrative arrangements, and constitutional and structural changes to allow them to meet the 40% target. 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

All information is correct at the start of April 2024. This data can change from week to week as and when board members move on and off boards for a variety of reasons.

The reference to other sporting funded bodies includes the Olympic Federation of Ireland, Paralympics Ireland, the Federation of Irish Sport, Student Sport Ireland, Active Disability Ireland and Age & Opportunity. The ‘Irish sport sector’ refers to all of these bodies as well as the NGBs and LSPs, making up the 100 organisations included in the tables below.