Project 51: Tackling gender stereotypes

By Martin Briggs, Sported volunteer

The last five months has seen the roll out of Project 51, our joint programme with Women in Sport to help girls in the most deprived areas of the UK  fulfil their potential and use sport to overcome the impact of negative gender stereotypes.


As part of the programme, Sported members in areas of Scotland, South West England and the West Midlands have benefited from expert workshops sharing insight from Women in Sport’s research into the values and motivations that guide girls’ decision making.


Sported’s volunteers have played a key role, having been upskilled and trained to deliver these workshops to help disseminate Women in Sport’s insight to a broad section of our membership.


Ahead of the next phase of the programme, which involves our members being supported by our volunteers to  embed the training into their day-to-day activities, we catch up with Sported volunteer Martin Briggs to hear why he wanted to get involved in the programme and how he got on.


Martin Briggs, Sported volunteerWhy did you want to get involved in Project 51? 

“I’ve seen in my own family the different sporting opportunities available to girls compared to boys, and the various influences and stereotyping that affects them at different stages of their development.


Through working with another sporting charity, I’ve also had the chance to see the really positive effects that a programme encouraging and supporting young people to take part in sport can have on girls’ participation generally, as well as their personal development. ”


How did the training go?

“The training as a whole was really interesting and, in particular, seeing some of the research that has been done by Women in Sport was quite eye-opening. It made me realise that I personally have been part of the problem (hopefully to a limited extent!) and that we all have a part to play in changing attitudes and stereotypes.


Through helping another charity, I’d also seen the power that role models can have in girls’ lives, with representatives of the national women’s team taking coaching sessions and acting as ambassadors. So Women in Sport’s research into ‘What Sways Women to Play Sport? and its Model of Influence, identifying a variety of influencers in girls’ participation in sport, hit home and this aspect of the training resonated strongly with me.


It was fun filling in the Values heat map for my wife – and finding out how wrong I’d actually got it when she did it herself (although she did say she just got carried away with the colouring!) I also thought the ‘Run Like a Girl’ video was really powerful and thought-provoking, putting the whole issue into perspective in a very clear and entertaining way.”


What are you most looking forwards to taking the training forwards with Sported member groups?

“It’s still early days but, in that a lot of the training involved understanding the underlying academic research – it’ll be interesting to see how the practical part of the project goes.


In particular, I’m looking forward to supporting the group in understanding how the research applies to their activities, identifying which of the practical tools highlighted in the training might work best for them, developing their specific plan of actions and then ultimately seeing what effect they have in practice.  The project will involve going on quite a journey with the group over a period of many months and I’ve always enjoyed this aspect of ongoing commitment and engagement with the member that mentoring for Sported involves.


At the end of the day, we are here to try to make a difference in practice if we possibly can.”