New Active Lives figures reveal stark gender gap in volunteering

A comprehensive picture of volunteering in sport and activity – including the stark gender gap – has been revealed in new figures released today from Sport England’s Active Lives Adult Survey.

It shows that men are much more likely to volunteer in sport and activity, in contrast to volunteering in general, where men and women volunteer in equal numbers.

In sport, male volunteers are also more likely to hold positions of influence as coaches, officials and committee members.

Some of the key volunteering stats show:

  • 4 million (60%) of volunteers aged 16+ are male, and 2.7 million (40%) are female – a gender gap of 1.3 million (20%)
  • 2 million (74%) of volunteer referees or umpires and 1.7 million (67%) of volunteer coaches or instructors are male
  • People from lower socio-economic backgrounds make up 31% of the population, but only 10% of volunteers
  • Disabled people make up 21% of the population but only 11% of volunteers.

“The contribution of the 6.7 million volunteers to sport is immense. It helps individuals get more active, benefits local communities, and it can do wonders for the volunteers themselves,” says Director of Sport, Phil Smith.

“We launched our campaign This Girl Can after research showed that a fear of judgement can hold many women back from getting involved in sport and activity, and 2.8 million women have told us they have been inspired to get active as a result.

“Now we need to work on attracting more women to volunteering in sport and activity, and we hope that the whole sports sector embraces that challenge.”

The Active Lives Adult Survey figures show 27.1 million people (60.6%) are active, meaning they do 150 minutes or more activity per week and meet the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines.

There are 11.5 million (25.6%) who are inactive, meaning they do less than 30 minutes of activity a week.

The survey also shows that people from lower socio-economic groups are much less likely to be active, which is why we’ll be targeting investment on those groups under our strategy, Towards an Active Nation.

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