Growing up an active female that took part in a variety of sports, I can honestly say that I never had a negative experience due to my gender. I am the youngest of three girls, all of whom were driven across Ontario to play hockey and soccer, rode school buses daily to any school sport we could fit into our crazy schedules, and had fun doing all of it. Both my mom and dad coached female sports while participating in their own physical activities. Sure, when my eldest sister was a pre-teen there were only a handful of female hockey teams in town for her to play on, but by the time I hit the same stage in life there was a booming girl’s house-league program and two levels of ‘rep’ teams… just for my age group. All three of us went on to play University sport in both the US and Canada and are still very active today.
Although I’ve had a fantastic experience as an active female, I am not oblivious to the fact that this is not the case for all women and girls. Progress is definitely being made for females in sport, but there is still a long way to go. That being said, we have to remember that cultural shifts don’t happen overnight. So how do we continue to promote physical activity among females? This is a question that comes up often in the ‘sport development’ community and in Provincial and National Sport organizations across the country. My thoughts? We need to start looking at everything through a more positive lens. Let’s focus on the fact that we do have more females participating in sport, recreation, and physical activity and take a look at how we can continue to promote and support this upward trend.
Not only have I lived my life up to this point proudly identifying as an athlete, but I am now happily working as a young professional in the sport industry. I haven’t been told I cannot do my job because I’m a female, my ideas are never shot down because I’m a girl. I believe in my views, my actions and know I am capable of doing my job—so the people around me believe it too. If we stop telling young girls they will have a tough time in sport, that they will have trouble accessing physical activity, or that they will never make a career in sport because generations of females before them struggled, then I truly think they’ll never even let it enter their minds. It’s a bit like Field of Dreams “If you build it they will come”, and it doesn’t differ much from the inspiring talk by Megan Leslie at the WomenActive NS Launch that highlighted the idea of “see her, be her”. If our generation- the next generation of mothers, aunts, sisters, bosses, and “influencers”- can work with other females and males toward gender equity and live a positive, healthy, active life, then the younger generation will follow suit.
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