Over one million teenage girls at odds with sport after primary school

Exercising in park

Women in Sport, the charity supporting women across physical activity, surveyed 4000 teenage girls and boys as part of its research on ‘Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls,’ funded by Sport England.

The survey found some of the reasons given for girls not wanting to participate was:

  • 68% said they had a fear of feeling judged by others
  • 61% had a lack of confidence
  • 47% had pressures due to schoolwork
  • 43% said they did not feel safe outside.

Scaling the figures up, the survey found 1,331,409 girls had fallen out of love with sport across the UK, more than the entire population of Birmingham (1,140,500).

Stephanie Hilborne, Women in Sport CEO said: “It’s an absolute travesty that teenage girls are being pushed out of sport at such a scale. Losing sport from their lives during these formative years equates to a loss of joy as well as good lifelong health. It is well documented that taking part in physical activity can have a profound and positive effect on mental wellbeing as well as providing many pivotal life skills such as resilience, teamwork and communication.

“The transition from childhood to adulthood should be filled with happiness, opportunity and optimism for the future. Teenage girls are not voluntarily leaving sport, they are being pushed out as a consequence of deep-rooted gender stereotypes. We must all do more to reverse this trend and not continue to accept this as inevitable. No-one should be excluded from the joy, fulfilment and lifelong benefits of sport and exercise.”

Commenting on Women in Sport’s survey, Tara Dillon, CIMSPA CEO said: “Now more than ever, we need to help women and girls overcome the barriers to particpating in sport and physical activity. We are committed to supporting the entire sector to come together and work harder to prevent any disengagement from sport. I think its fair to say that general mmental health awareness a few years ago was probably lacking, a few years ago but I see a really healthy shift in the sport and physical activity sector. General awareness is much, much better than it was. We must see that trend contiuing, the benefits speak for themselves.”

CIMSPA recently signed the Social Mobility Pledge. One of the key parts of the Action Plan is to continue to adopt transparent recruitment practices to promote a level playing field for people from disadvantaged groups. This goes hand-in-hand with Sport England’s Uniting the Movement strategy and CIMSPA’s ongoing support of this within the workforce. The growing opportunity gap can only be closed if we work together.

CIMSPA has also enrolled many of its team members on a diversity programme with our partners, Inclusive Employers – the UK's first and leading membership organisation for employers looking to build inclusive workplaces.


Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity

CIMSPA's work enhances the career opportunities and professional development of the workforce operating in sport, fitness, exercise, leisure, gym, coaching, health and wellbeing. We achieve this through sector-wide engagement, membership, networking, events, directories and professional standards.

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