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Sex Discrimination Objectives

Learning Objectives

This activity will provide you with information about:

  • Verbal abuse.
  • The possible effect of verbal abuse on children.
  • The reasons people give to justify verbal abuse.
  • Strategies for positive coaching.
  • Club responsibilities.

Sex Discrimination

30 November -0001
Published In:

Restricted access (Sex discrimination)

Welcome to this short scenario where a club's traditional approach to membership and participation are challenged.

Start Lesson

Setting the scene

Many clubs have been around for a long time and have well established attitudes and values. The reality, however, it that those values are occasionally out of step with today's more inclusive social principles.

The following scenario focuses on some of the issues that can arise when an indivdual's expectations clash with a club's traditional approach to membership and participation. Although the scenario is set within a golf club, the challenges posed can be found in many sporting environments.

As you read through the material think about what you'd do in this situation.

View learning objectives

Continue to Scene 1

Scene 1

Mary is a keen sportswoman who decides to take up golf. She pays her membership fee to join the local club, plays regularly and is soon a member of the competition team. She quickly discovers, however, that the tee-off times for women are restricted to late Sunday afternoons and 'non-peak' times during the week - times that conflict with her family and work commitments.

sex-discrimination-s1

Continue to Scene 2

Scene 2: Mary approaches the club captain

Mary approaches Malcolm, the club captain, to discuss the matter.

"Malcolm, I've noticed that women are only able to play at limited times. Do you think it would be possible to make a few changes?"

Choose Malcolm's response

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A) "I'm sorry Mary but those times have been set for years. It's tradition."

It may be tradition, but times and expectations have changed. People's lives are very different from what they were 10, 15 or 20 years ago and clubs need to recognise and respond to this fact.

To deny a club member equal access to the use of club facilities on the basis of 'tradition' is discrimination.

Try a different response

B) "Men always get first preference because they're full members."

Although it's acceptable for clubs to have different levels of membership, with different benefits and privileges attached, it's important that all new and potential members are informed of these differences. This enables each club member to select the membership level that suits their needs.

Clubs can't deny women - or men - a particular level of membership on the basis of gender.

Try a different response

C) "The men wouldn't like it. Many of them work and they don't have as much time as women."

Malcolm is right in that some men probably wouldn't like to see the times changed. But he's wrong when he suggests that men have less discretionary time that women. Changes in work patterns have seen an increased number of women enter the workforce and a decline in male participation (particularly for men over 50). People, irrespective of gender, want choices about when they play sport - choices that provide them with realistic alternatives. Neither men nor women should be treated less favourably because of assumptions about their lives, work or family commitments.

A number of clubs have recognised this fact and made changes to ensure both sexes have equal access to resources and facilities.

Try a different response

D) "I'm not sure. I don't know if the rules allow it."

Malcolm's answer may not be ideal but it's a good place to start. He's not defending this status quo. He's not telling Mary that things won't change. He's simply acknowledging that he doesn't know and that he's unaware of the club's rules on the matter. But he shouldn't leave the matter there. He could either offer to raise the issue with the management committee or advise Mary to write to the committee with her request for more flexible scheduling.

If the club's rules don't allow women access to the more desirable times, then the management committee should review its rules and constitution - something all clubs should do regularly to ensure they're meeting the needs of all their members.

Continue to Scene 3

Scene 3: Joining the management committee

Mary writes to the management committee but doesn't receive a reply. Eventually she approaches Malcolm. He explains that the committee has discussed the issue and decided to leave things as they are given that no one else has an issue with the way times are allocated. Mary is unhappy with this outcome and tells Malcolm that she wishes to nominate for the management committee. Malcolm dicusses this issue with Peter, the head if the match committee.

Choose Peter's response?

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A) "Well we could certainly do with more women on the social committee."

If Mary wants to join the social committee, that's fine. But what if she doesn't?

Each member should not only be able to nominate for the management committee but to indicate the sort of role they would like to play if they're elected. Clubs shouldn't make decisions based on stereotypes.  If they do, they not only miss out on utilising all the skills they have available to them, they run the risk of breaching anti-discrimination legislation.

Resources:

Women's golf club captain - interview

What can Mary do if she lacks membership support?

What can Mary do if the management committee membership or nomination processes appear discriminatory?

Try a different response

B) "That should be okay provided she doesn't want an executive position."

Everyone elected to the managment committee should be able to nominate for an executive position. If the constitution doesn't allow women (or men) to take a leadership role within the club then it is discrimination against members on the basis of gender. This type of discrimination is against the law.

In order for clubs to increase their membership and rate of participation they need to think about how they can best attract and encourage people to get involved at all levels of club activity.

Resources:

Women's golf club captain - interview

What can Mary do if she lacks membership support?

What can Mary do if the management committee membership or nomination processes appear discriminatory?

Try a different response

C) "I don't think she'd get much support from the other members."

Peter may be right. But if he is, is it worth identifying why Mary wouldn't recieve support from other club members. If it's because she's a woman and the club has traditionally been dominated by men, then it's time the organisation moved into the 21st century and accepted equality and social diversity. In this case both Malcolm and Peter should take initiative and encourage the club to assess the way it selects committee members. If, however, it's because Mary hasn't spent time interacting with other club members and people don't know her, then Peter's response is understandable.

Resources:

Women's golf club captain - interview

What can Mary do if she lacks membership support?

What can Mary do if the management committee membership or nomination processes appear discriminatory?

Try a different response

D) "I'm not sure she has the skills."

This response at least shows that Peter is thinking about the skills and experience required for committee positions and that's great, particularly if it reflects how the club approaches the filling of all committee positions. But if it's not, and the club normally accepts anyone who applies, then using this criterion to assess Mary's nomination is discriminatory.

The reality is that most clubs struggle to fill management committee positions. And if they reject individuals who are interested in taking a leadership role because they are the 'wrong' sex, race, religion or sexual orientation, then their membership base (and funds) will continue to diminish.

Resources:

Women's golf club captain - interview

What can Mary do if she lacks membership support?

What can Mary do if the management committee membership or nomination processes appear discriminatory?

Continue to Scene 4

Scene 4: Getting more women involved in the club

Mary is elected to the management committee and shows leadership in resolving the problem of match days and scheduling. She is keen to see other women become actively involved in all aspects of the club's operations. Which of the following do you believe would be the most effective way to achieve this objective?

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A) Encourage women to apply for leadership roles

Encouraging women to apply for leadership positions is a great idea provided they have the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully guide and manage the club's activities. Not all women - or men - have these qualities. But that doesnt mean that Mary or the management committee should ignore this option. Rather, they could mentor women who are interested in taking on non-traditional or leadership roles and promote leadership training programs and opportunities.

Although this is a positive first step, it's not enough to encourage women's active involvement throughout the organisation. For this to occur the committee have to look closely at all aspects of the club's operation, remove any barriers to women's participation and promote inclusivity.

Resources:

Women's golf club captain - interview

Explore other options

Continue

B) Propose that committee representation reflects membership (e.g. women make up 40% of the club so should fill 40% of the positions)

There are a number of possible benefits to having women on managment committee including:

  • better representation of the views of women's competition members
  • greater diversity and range of skills
  • having a contact person for women who may not feel comfortable raising committee issues with a man.

The important thing is that the club's managment committee considers the interests and needs of all its members.

Having quotas, however, is a vexed issue and can set both the individual and the organisation up for failure. Ideally committees should comprise both men and women with the knowledge and skills required to perform those various tasks required to manage a club. If people don't have those skills, but are interested in joining the management committee, then mentoring or training are valid options.

Resources:

Women's golf club captain - interview

Try a different response

C) Organise sessions with management committee members to discuss the club's culture and values.

Rules, regulations, policies and procedures - and the level to which they are promoted and enforced - all reflect a club's culture and values. Organising sessions with the management committee to explore ways of creating a more inclusive club is therefore the best possible response. As part of this process the committee could incorporate options a) and d) as well as identifying barriers faced by different membership groups and developing strategies to support people's participation.

Resources:

Women's golf club captain - interview

What can Mary do if she lacks membership support?

Explore other options

Continue

D) Review all policies and procedures to ensure women are not disadvantaged.

A club's policies and procedures should reflect the club's culture and values. They provide a framework within which the organisation operates. Reviewing these documents to make sure they don't discriminate against women is a really positive thing to do but it's not an end in itself.

Members need to know that their club is inclusive and that all members will be treated equally in their access to roles, responsibilities, facilities and resources. This means that the management committee needs to promote and publicise their commitment to equality and diversity and to support women in their efforts to play mor active role in the organisation.

Resources:

Women's golf club captain - interview

Explore other options

Continue

Reflection

This scenario has identified some of the barriers to women's involvement in leadership and decision-making positions and provided some suggestions for making your sport more inclusive.

Actions to help you achieve this goal

For more information about gender discrimination and sport view the following resources:

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Feedback

You have now completed the scenario, we hope it helped you develop a better understanding of how to deal with these issues if they arise in your club.

Your feedback would be appreciated to assist us in continually improving our resources.

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