The Irish Government announced this week that sport bodies could face funding cuts if they do not meet quotas for female representation on boards.
The news was not received too well on social media with most people saying the “best qualified” should be on the board regardless of their gender.
Another good argument is that if this much effort and pressure was put on the funding and development of the grassroots female sports, it would be more beneficial.
But the government are practicing what they preach. In the last general election political parties would lose state funding if they did not meet a 30% gender quota.
How many women sit on the boards of top sports here in Ireland? The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has a board made up of 11 people which consists of 11 men and 0 women.
But that’s football, a once off surely? GAA Ireland’s national sport, has 18 members on their board and still not one woman. The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has one woman on a board of 23 people.
Does the state have business demanding who is on these boards? Well yes they do. The three organisations mentioned above, which are the top three in the country, receive approximately €7.5 million of state funding every year.
We have seen some female success on the ground in Irish sports with many female Olympians and Para-Olympians returning home with medals. Katie Taylor has won her first two professional boxing bouts after dominating the amateur world for years.
The list goes on and more will go un-mentioned but the question must be asked, will female athletes fare better if there are females on the boards of their sports? Will the sport themselves do better regardless the gender of their athletes?
Of the 20 sports organisations which receive state funding in Ireland, there are 239 board members, 56 are women. 13 of those 56 are on the Camoige Association which is an all-female sport.
Quotas may appear to be controversial but the panic and anger over political quotas passed and the same will probably happen in sport. It would be nice to see some initiative on gender balance before we have to implement gender quotas on anymore organisations.