Gender Equity in Recreational Sport: Optimizing Facility Use
The recreation sector plays a very important role in the sport system. It is the main provider of facilities for recreational and competitive sport participation. As well, it offers, on its own or with community partners, a variety of recreational sport programs and physical activity opportunities. As such, the recreation sector has a critical role to play in reducing two significant barriers to the participation and retention of girls, women and gender-diverse individuals: access to community sport facilities, and the design and maintenance of these facilities.
Traditionally, and still today, prime time slots (e.g., ice time) as well as prime facilities (e.g., best fields) are often given to traditional male sports programs, thereby limiting access to facilities for girls and women. Further, just as important as access is the need to improve facilities in a way that addresses the design and maintenance elements that are valued by girls, women and gender diverse individuals in order to help them feel welcome and safe and eager to return.
CPRA has designed this Toolkit, Gender Equity in Recreational Sport: Optimizing Facility Use, to address the issues of facility use and design, not using a “one-size-fits-all” approach, but rather by focusing on building the capacity of recreation practitioners and community sport leaders to better understand their community’s unique characteristics and needs and determine how their organizations can meet these needs.
We invite you to begin exploring these topics by starting your journey with the sections A Focus on Capacity Building and Evaluate Your Capacity. These topics will describe the approach of the Toolkit and help you determine how and where to focus your efforts on the path to gender equity in recreational sport.
To learn more about the findings that influenced the Optimizing Facility Use project’s development, click here for the Project Presentation.
A Focus on Capacity Building
There are many excellent resources that exist promoting gender equity in sport, though fewer dedicated to the topic of facility use and design. Three of our commitments in developing this project are to:
- ensure that we are sourcing, promoting and disseminating existing tools that currently address, in part, or in their entirety, the topics of facility use and design;
- create a Toolkit as a support to training and education, and not as the final end product, where so many Toolkits already exist;
- ensure that we recognize and address the common challenges that many communities face regarding gender equity in recreational sport while, at the same time, honouring their unique circumstances.
With these commitments in mind, and in consideration of the findings of the data collection efforts, it was determined that this project would focus on capacity building for recreation professionals in four distinct areas:
Further, we will address the role of leadership within each of these four areas of focus as a key ingredient to address gender equity.
In taking this approach, we are seeking to put the emphasis less on a prescriptive approach to implementing changes, and more on the importance of providing a strong foundation, built on the distinct and unique characteristics of neighbourhoods and communities, to tackle gender equity in recreational sport at the community level.
To start you off on this learning journey, learn more about how to evaluate your capacity. This “Gender Equity Temperature Check” tool will help you determine where your strengths lie on this issue and guide you to the tools and topics that will be most relevant to you. However, you are always welcome to view and use all the tools in any section of the toolkit.
Once you know where you want to start, visit some or all of the information under each of the four areas of focus: Organizational Culture, Community Engagement, Facility Design, and Evaluation. Each section contains a workshop related to that topic, some tools that you can employ, as well as resources that address the topic.
We hope you find the presentations and tools useful. And don’t forget to check out the Resources and Success Stories for information about how to contribute to the goal of achieving gender equity in sport by 2035.
Evaluate Your Capacity
In partnership with Canadian Women and Sport (CWS), we are providing you with their Gender Equity Temperature Check tool. This self-assessment tool is a great way to begin to assess where your organization is at in terms of reaching gender equity. It guides you through a review of your organization’s policies and practices, organizational culture and commitment and readiness to change. Once completed, we encourage you to address the different topics related to Facility Use and Design in each of the four areas of focus: Organizational Culture, Community Engagement, Facility Design, and Evaluation.
Explore the Toolkit
Creating a Strong Culture and Shared Commitment
Organizational culture is the collection of values, expectations, and practices that guide and inform the actions of the organization. A great culture exemplifies positive traits that lead to improved performance, while a dysfunctional company culture brings out qualities that can hinder even the most successful organizations. The atmosphere or climate in a recreation facility will set the tone for the recruitment and retention of participants, as well as volunteers and staff.
This section will focus on three specific topics regarding organizational support for girls, women and gender diverse individuals:
- Creating a Welcoming Environment workshop).
- Social Hubs and Disrupting Social Norms
The workshop focused on three specific topics regarding organizational support for girls, women and gender diverse individuals.
The toolkit specifically aims to help clubs increase the involvement of women and girls, Aboriginal people and people from culturally diverse communities.
An evidence-based, step-by-step, comprehensive online toolkit designed to help sport organizations bring their gender equity vision to life.
This self–assessment tool is designed for all sport and physical activity organizations/providers who want to reap the benefits of greater gender equity within their organizations.
Who are the People in Your Neighbourhood?
Many women, girls, and gender diverse individuals in communities across Canada are not engaged in recreation and sport for a variety of reasons. This section explores non-traditional ways of understanding the community and, specifically, those who do not typically participate in recreation. You will find information about the creative engagement of partners to optimize recruitment and retention of those women and girls who are not currently participating in local recreational sport. This could mean the coordination and collaboration in a community that maximizes opportunities for participation across facilities and programs.
This workshop will explore non-traditional ways of understanding the community and, specifically, those who do not typically participate in recreation.
Quality engagement in physical activity can further the integration of newcomer women and girls into their communities and positively impact their overall quality of life.
Includes resources and key findings from the research which is funded by Sport England.
This guide will help you get more women and girls in your area active – even if you’re not directly involved in the sport or leisure sector.
“Go Where Women Are” is about engaging women in sport and exercise on their terms and in their space whether physically or emotionally.
Understanding How Facility Design Can Attract and Encourage Use by Girls, Women and Gender-Diverse Individuals
Awareness around diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and equity is evolving and changing the physical environment that forms the backdrop for sport and recreation. In the development of designs that consider all humans, making the case for girls, women, and gender diverse individuals can positively impact participation in programming offered at facilities and help overcome the barriers that often deter participation.
This section focuses on two key components related to gender equity and the design of recreation facilities:
- Facility infrastructure design that is universal (“gender mainstreaming”) and/or gender-friendly in nature.
- Methods to “make the case” for facility design changes in support of gender equity to a variety of stakeholders (e.g., funders, current participants, senior volunteers and staff).
This workshop will focus on two basic elements related to gender equity and the design of recreation facilities.
COMING SOON – A practical tool for organizations to identify strengths and opportunities to promote equity.
The guidelines focus on three key enablers: Facility Planning and Design, Maximising Use (i.e., culture, programing, and Policy to Drive Change.
This document explores the benefits of universal washrooms and change rooms and their provision in community and recreation facilities.
Evaluating Outcomes Using the Best Questions and Data
Gathering and understanding the results of your efforts to address gender equity in your recreational sport organization and sharing these findings in the most appropriate way(s) with stakeholders is fundamental to sound program planning. This section focuses on OUTCOME evaluation in general with specific application to gender equity initiatives and understanding the impact of this work. A six-step framework to evaluation will be accompanied by practical worksheets and relevant gender equity examples shared.
This workshop will focus on OUTCOME evaluation in general with specific application to gender equity initiatives and understanding the impact of this work.
We have collected several resources addressing gender equity in recreational sport and we will keep adding more as we find new ones. Please browse the resources, or search, specifically, using the Toolkit topics If you have a resource that you think should be featured here, please contact us at email@example.com so that we can add it in.
So many great things are happening across Canada regarding gender equity in recreational sport. Read these stories to find out more about how different communities are addressing the issue, in big and small ways.
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Last Updated: December 13, 2021