Sport Ireland

Media Release

17th December 2020

Progress towards Gender Balance on Boards – Leadership Composition Snapshot (2nd Update)

In line with its Policy on Women in Sport, Sport Ireland is committed to publishing a biannual snapshot of female representation on the boards of funded National Governing Bodies of Sport.

Leadership and Governance is one of the four key strategic areas on which the Sport Ireland Policy on Women in Sport is built, along with Coaching & Officiating, Visibility and Active Participation.

In this regard, a key objective of the Leadership and Governance target area is to progress towards greater gender balance in board membership of funded bodies. The second objective is to provide a pathway for women aspiring to become leaders of funded bodies.

The first update, published in March 2020, showed that females make up an average of 29% of boards across funded National Governing Bodies. This was an increase from 24% at when the Sport Ireland Policy on Women in Sport was published in 2019.

The second snapshot published today shows that this figure has remained consistent; females currently account for 29% of board members.

As we start to look at female representation across all funded bodies, figures from the Federation of Irish Sport, Olympic Federation of Ireland and Paralympics Ireland have been included in this update.

Commenting on the publication of the statistics, Chair of Sport Ireland’s Women in Sport Steering Committee, Lynne Cantwell, said: “The overall representation of females on boards across the sector has remained consistent this year, however there have been a number of notable developments. Most recently, the Olympic Federation of Ireland has achieved gender balance on its board following its recent AGM. Sport Ireland is also seeing strong uptake from females across the range of service offered to both board members and staff among funded organisations. In particular, the Level 9 Certificate in Governance has been an excellent addition to the offering. The Women in Sport Steering group will continue to work with all stakeholders to support the increase in female representation at board level.

Action 32 of the Government’s National Sports Policy 2018-2027 tasks National Governing Bodies with developing equality action plans and setting gender diversity targets.

Sport Ireland Director of Participation and Ethics, Dr Una May, commented: “As part of Sport Ireland’s responsibilities under the National Sport Policy, we are monitoring progress and providing periodical public updates on the progress of our funded bodies towards gender diversity, in particular the make-up of boards. The launch this week of a new board recruitment service by the Federation of Irish Sport, with support from Sport Ireland, for National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships is a timely development. This is a positive for both potential board members, who will have the opportunity to put themselves forward for arising vacancies, and organisations, that will have a list of suitably qualified candidates to select from. Sport Ireland will continue to provide training and development opportunities for women as part of our strategic vision of a sector operating to the highest standards of governance and accountability.

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. At present, female CEOs represent 28% of the total CEOs in NGBs (including the Federation of Irish Sport, Olympic Federation and Paralympics Ireland). Ten NGBs also have female Presidents.

Sport Ireland Women in Sport Lead, Nora Stapleton, added: “The work of the Sport Ireland Policy on Women in Sport and Women in Sport Programme invests in female leadership capacity, increases availability of skilled Female Board members and guides Governance best practice that supports gender equity. Sport Ireland’s M-Power Mentoring Programme continues to support females in the sports sector, while we are very satisfied with the leadership programmes being developed by the NGBs and LSPs.

Numerous NGBs delivered, and/or continue to deliver, excellent Women in Sport Leadership programmes for their members. Canoeing Ireland saw their ‘Bridge the Gap’ programme culminate recently with 35 female ambassadors taking part. Athletics Ireland, the IRFU and LGFA continue to roll out leadership programmes for their female volunteers, while up to 19 NGBs have provided opportunities for their female leaders to join a leadership programme coordinated by Swim Ireland. The programme continues to roll out across the sector due to demand and is now entering its fourth instalment.

Sport Ireland is also today launching its new Gender Diversity on Boards Toolkit. The resource comes in two parts, the first draws on International and Irish research to outline the business case for more gender diverse boards, while the second part contains a toolkit with actions that sports can implement within their organisation.

Commenting on the resource, Nora Stapleton added: “In order to support sporting bodies, Sport Ireland, with the help of expert consultants Leading Sport, have developed a resource that can be utilised by sports leaders in order to provide guidance on the recruitment and retention of women on boards. The benefits of diverse boards is widely accepted and this toolkit can help NGBs, LSPs and other funded bodies on their journey of improving, and or maintaining, gender diversity on their board”.

The resource can be downloaded from the Sport Ireland website. Sports leaders will also have an opportunity to attend a webinar in the New Year whereby they will be introduced to the toolkit, the background research and how the information might be useful within their own organisation.

Board Representation

The information contained within this update has been provided by National Governing Bodies, Local Sports Partnerships and other funded bodies through the Core Grant Application process or via direct contact in November 2020. It is encouraging to note that 32 sporting bodies) have achieved a target of at least 30% females on their board. This is up from 24 NGBs in March of this year. While 13 NGBs still report 10% or less females on their boards, it’s positive to note that this has reduced from 20 NGBs in 2019.

The Local Sports Partnerships also paint a positive picture with an overall 37% females on boards. 19 LSP Boards have obtained a minimum standard of 30% while 10 LSPs are under that. It is very encouraging to note that the leadership of the LSPs shows a positive gender split with females making up 59% of Coordinator roles. Females also account for 21% of chairperson roles on LSP Boards.

NGBs who have obtained 30% females on their board

NGB %  of Women on Board
Angling Council of Ireland 33%
Basketball Ireland 43%
Baton Twirling Sport Association of Ireland 80%
Cycling Ireland 30%
Deaf Sports Ireland 33%
Federation of Irish Sport 36%
Fencing Ireland 50%
Golf Ireland (Transition Board) 44%
Gymnastics Ireland 44%
Horse Sport Ireland 38%
Irish Orienteering Association 33%
Irish Sailing Association 40%
Irish Squash 31%
Irish Taekwondo Union 33%
Irish Wheelchair Association Sport 57%
Ladies Gaelic Football Association 57%
Motor Cycling Ireland 50%
Mountaineering Ireland 42%
National Community Games 60%
Rowing Ireland 31%
Rugby League Ireland 30%
Special Olympics Ireland 46%
Speleological Union of Ireland 30%
Student Sport Ireland 50%
Swim Ireland 40%
The Camogie Association 77%
Triathlon Ireland 33%
Volleyball Ireland 71%
Table Tennis Ireland 40%
Olympic Federation of Ireland 50%
Paralympics Ireland 56%


NGBs who have yet to reach 30%

NGB %  of Women on Board
American Football Ireland 0%
Archery Ireland 20%
Athletics Ireland 25%
Badminton Ireland 25%
Bol Chumann na hÉireann 13%
Bowling League of Ireland 11%
Canoeing Ireland 22%
Cricket Ireland 17%
Croquet Association of Ireland 29%
Football Association of Ireland 25%
GAA Handball Ireland 8%
Gaelic Athletic Association 11%
Hockey Ireland 25%
Horseshoe Pitchers Association of Ireland 0%
Irish Amateur Wrestling Association 8%
Irish Athletic Boxing Association 0%
Irish Clay Target Shooting Association 10%
Irish Ice Hockey Association of Ireland 20%
Irish Judo Association 29%
Irish Martial Arts Commission 26%
Irish Olympic Handball Association 14%
Irish Rugby Football Union 8%
Irish Surfing Association 17%
Irish Tenpin Bowling Association 25%
Irish Underwater Council 27%
Irish Waterski & Wakeboard Federation 0%
Motor Sport Ireland 0%
Pitch and Putt Ireland 9%
Racquetball Association of Ireland 25%
Snooker & Billiards Ireland 0%
Tennis Ireland 29%
Tug of War Ireland 20%
Vision Sports Ireland 0%
Weightlifting Ireland 14%


NGB’s with 10% or less females on their board

NGB %  of Women on Board
GAA Handball Ireland 8%
American Football Ireland 0%
Horseshoe Pitchers Association of Ireland 0%
Irish Amateur Wrestling Association 8%
Bol Chumann na hÉireann 0%
Irish Athletic Boxing Association 0%
Irish Clay Target Shooting Association 10%
Irish Rugby Football Union 8%
Irish Waterski & Wakeboard Federation 0%
Motor Sport Ireland 0%
Pitch and Putt Ireland 9%
Snooker & Billiards Ireland 0%
Vision Sports Ireland 0%


Boards of Local Sports Partnerships

LSP % of Women on Board
Roscommon 67%
Wexford 67%
Limerick 63%
Dún Laoghaire Rathdown 53%
Leitrim 50%
Meath 50%
Wicklow 50%
Sligo 47%
Laois 46%
Mayo 44%
Carlow 42%
Kilkenny 42%
Kerry 39%
Total 37%
Donegal 33%
Galway 33%
Kildare 33%
Longford 33%
Louth 33%
South Dublin 31%
Dublin City 29%
Westmeath 29%
Fingal 27%
Offaly 26%
Tipperary 25%
Waterford 21%
Monaghan 20%
Cavan 19%
Cork 18%
Clare 14%