A Yonder Whitepaper series


What can we do?

To ensure that participation doesn’t continue to drag behind viewership, brands and organisations should look to reimagine what they are bringing to the table. This is where Yonder comes in. Our framework for reimagination defines four areas that businesses need to keep in mind when defining their offer:


It is about understanding your audience and what they need.


It is about the market you play in but don’t forget to think beyond that and look at who else could enter your market.


It is about what truly defines your organisation and what you want to be known for

These three elements will be affected by the context you are in:


This is growing in importance as more and more, people expect businesses to react and share their opinions on external matters.

Framework for reimagination

Using this model, brands and organisations can reimagine how we approach increasing women’s participation – so we don’t just ‘shrink it and pink it’ – but ultimately rethink how we connect to girls and women.

1. Leverage growing interest

The challenge

Despite visible increases in women’s sport in the public eye and on our TV screens, the majority of sport that we see is male-dominated. Male athletes, male presenters, and traditionally ‘male sports’ continue to consume peak viewing time slots. This means that increased viewership of women’s sport doesn’t necessarily translate into increased participation.

The opportunity

Build associations that sport can be ‘for them’:

  • Showcase more women’s teams and athletes, have more female presenters and pundits, devote time to women’s sports in peak viewing slots. Ensure men’s and women’s sports are shown in the same viewing slot or stadium to combat perceptions that sport ‘isn’t for’ women. 
  • Highlight match atmosphere to women’s preferences – e.g. not just lads!

Present opportunities to participate front and centre:

  • Leverage advertising in sports fixtures to drive participation in sports – specify Freeview advertising & physical adverts at events (e.g. through stadium ads, leaflets, social media).
  • Organisations and brands should partner with each other to create opportunities for both girls and women by going to them vs. women seeking them out.
  • At a reasonable pace, the Government should take steps to encourage broader access to sports facilities – specifically aimed at women and girls – at the local community level.

2. Tackle stereotypes

The challenge

Gendered stereotypes still impact girls’ and women’s experiences. For example, stereotypes in the playground and the gendered marketing of products aimed at children create and enhance this, impacting future attitudes of children towards their bodies, physical activity and sports.

The opportunity

Use language which empowers:

  • Consider the language and messaging used to market products aimed at children so that they challenge existing stereotypes that limit girls’ perceptions about whether sports are ‘for them’ to start empowering them at a young age.

Start tackling stereotypes from a young age:

  • Regulation may be required to better incorporate anti-gender bias into primary and secondary school curriculums, and pre-natal education.

3. Reframe sport 

The challenge

The typical school curriculum offers a limited variety of sports to women and girls. Girls have little opportunity to try their hand at ‘traditionally male sports’ such as football, rugby and cricket. There also remains a perception that ‘traditionally male sports’ have the most value attached to them in secondary schools so don’t feel like a place for girls to explore.

The opportunity

Diversify the curriculum:

  • Both at the primary and secondary level, schools should consider diversifying the curriculum to ensure equal access to all sports (e.g. girls should have the option to play rugby) and broader access to activities typically preferred among girls (e.g. gymnastics).

Create broader sports associations:

  • Showcase the value of sport to women beyond usual associations (e.g. competition, hardwork etc.) and highlight its capacity for self-development and social interaction (e.g. team-building, leadership etc.), which carry strong appeal.

4. Break taboos

The challenge

As girls and women grow, so do their bodies, but these changes feel underexplored by the sports and education sectors. There is a lack of education about periods, sports bras and developing bodies, and the impact these changes have on girls and young women both on an emotional and practical level in relation to playing sport.

The opportunity

Be supportive:

  • Acknowledge and offer support and guidance to girls and women about how to navigate their bodies during sport.

5. Innovate and tailor

The challenge

Many brands are missing a highly profitable opportunity by leaning their product offering to male audiences. Whether in the form of sportswear, sports equipment or gym offerings, many women perceive the options on offer to them as deficient.

The opportunity

Take women’s bodies into account:

  • Within sports retail, brands should innovate their clothing so as to account for the physiological challenges women face over the course of their lives (e.g. menstruation, developing breasts etc.).
  • Sports technology and products should move with a similar goal in mind: growing and developing their existing product range to better tailor to the female body.


As we move forward to overcome these challenges, and seize these opportunities, we should not focus on the negatives. Huge progress has already been made, and there is more momentum behind women’s sports than ever before. But this momentum cannot be sustained by one sector in isolation. True momentum comes from the masses, and momentum is high for mass change.

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