Call for chapter proposals | Progress and stagnation of gender diversity in European sport leadership

Agnes Elling, Jorid Hovden & Annelies Knoppers

To be approached (e.g. Sage)


The idea of the book proposal

The underrepresentation of women or the lack of gender diversity in leadership positions in sport has become  one of the central policy issues in EU regarding gender and sport, (e.g.  Braund, 2014; European Commission, 2013; 2014; Loughborough, 2010). Although some progress towards more gender equality seems to have been made, changes have been slow in coming, vary by country and have rarely transformed male dominated organizations into places with a more gender inclusive culture. In addition, change has not always been sustainable. Little, if any, monitoring has been done to explore how equitable gender ratios in sport leadership  are sustained or under what circumstances they revert to gender skewness and cultures favoring specific masculinities. Moreover, policy plans and actions to create more gender equitable leadership cultures have often been based on perspectives that focus primarily on the gender ratio as a single issue and ignore the complexity of underlying dynamics and organizational processes that produce such inequalities. Although there is an extensive body of knowledge on gender diversity in (sport) leadership, the scholarship is however, fragmented and often focused on only one context. Thus there is a lack of comprehensive, comparative and integrated knowledge in understandings of the persistence of gender inequity in leadership positions in sport.


The purpose of the book is to bring together and to compare theoretical and empirical analyses of gendered leadership practices in sport governance and organizations in differing cultural contexts. Such a comprehensive analysis may broaden insights, expand current theorizing and enable new knowledges to emerge. The aim is to produce a knowledge base that can serve as a foundation for future policy making and produce more sustainable gender equity in sport governance and in decision-making bodies of sport organizations.

Europe consists of a conglomeration of countries, each with their own constructions of gender and yet bound by the charter of the EU, in which gender equality is one of its founding democratic principles (EC, 2013; 2014). One priority area in the EU’s strategy for realizing gender equality is the promotion of equality between women and men in decision-making processes. In this book we wish to take a comprehensive approach by engaging in comparative analyses of how various countries in Europe have addressed this issue in sport. The  emphasis will be on positions of leadership at the highest levels of sport organizations including managing, coaching and governance. These positions tend to have the lowest gender ratios; policies created by those holding these positions have a (inter)national impact.


The book will consist of three sections. Section 1 (Country analyses) will contain country-specific chapters. Each chapter presents numerical data on the gender ratios in positions of sport leadership, how these have changed over time (if any), policies and strategies that have been used and political and theoretical arguments that have been used. Section II (Comparative analyses) will consist of chapters, each using different theoretical and methodological perspectives, that analyse the quantitative and qualitative data presented in Section I. Section III will consist of a concluding chapter that discusses the various findings and their implications for theorizing, strategizing and policy making.

Guidelines for authors

Those who wish to contribute to this innovative book should submit an abstract for a chapter that could be part of Section I. The abstract should include a brief description of the research on this topic in a specific country including themes, statistics, strategies and theoretical approaches.  The chapter could include components such as recruitment patterns, experiences of support and/or resistance, the influence of forces external to sport on strategies and policies and the often invisible dynamics that may prevent a transformation of gendered organizational/governance culture. The authors should also indicate how, if at all, prevailing discourses of femininity and masculinity in relation to leadership in sport have been addressed and how these may intersect with sexuality, race, ethnicity and class. We do not expect every author to address all of the topics, but would like to have an idea about what an author is able to describe/analyse. We will select abstracts for further development into a chapter for Section I, based on their grounding in existing research in the specific (sport) context, geographic location in Europe (North, South, West, East) and their use of theoretical perspectives.

We call on those interested in submitting a chapter (6000-8000 words) to send an abstract of maximum 500 words and a short autobiography that describes your work in this research field. Our goal is to have the book completed in Summer 2017.

Deadline abstracts: June 15

Contact information:


Braund, C. (2014). Gender balance in global sport report 2013. AU:Women on boards Council of Europe (2014). Gender equality strategy 2014-2017. Brussel: Council of Europe.
European Commission (2013). Women and men in leadership positions in the European Union 2013: A review of the situation and recent progress. Brussel: European Commission.
European Commission (2014) Gender equality in sport. Proposal for strategic actions 2014 – 2020. Brussels: European Commission.
Loughborough Centre for Olympic Studies and Research (2010) Gender equality and leadership in Olympic bodies. Women, leadership and the Olympic movement 2010. Lausanne: IOC/ Loughborough University.
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