Sunderland, sexism and signing up to WiF - Jane Purdon answers your questions

8 March 2019

Sunderland, sexism and signing up to WiF - Jane Purdon answers your questions

Women in Football CEO Jane Purdon - answers your questions on Twitter

Women in Football CEO Jane Purdon brought our hugely successful four-part Twitter Q&A series to a close on International Women's Day.

Here, in their full glory, are Jane's answers to your questions:

Q: Lindsay via email - What are the challenges for women working in football?

A: Negative attitudes and assumptions can still be found, and we need to challenge them. Change must start at the top, with organisations making a demonstrable commitment to diversity and equality. Then, we need to showcase and celebrate the achievements of women working in the game - to change perceptions about what women in football do.

We also need to work with young women, to show them a career in football is for them, and to help them grow and develop so that they have the confidence and skills to progress their careers and be numbered among the future leaders of the game.

Q: Tia via email - Have you ever met sexism working in football?

A: Yes, unfortunately. It hasn’t been typical of my football experience by any means, but I’ve met it. This is why it’s important that women working in the game have support.

We can help our members including by signposting them to pro bono advice should the need arise. And a good safeguard is to join a union - shout out to our partners @ProspectUnion who work with us and who are familiar with the industry and its issues.

Q: @GrlInependent via @TwitterUK - who’s going to win the World Cup?! Who are you most looking forward to watching play?

A: My hopes are really high for the @Lionesses, anyone who saw them in the #SheBelieves Cup will know that they have to be a contender.I’m also looking forward to seeing @ScotlandNT - they’re preparing well, they’re up for it, and I think they’re going to give a very good account of themselves.

As for the winner, I think it could be quite open this year that’s going to be one of the great pleasures about this #FIFAWWC. England, USA, Japan are all in the mix. France are a strong team who are always good to watch, and the Netherlands are current European Champions.

Q: Adowa via email - What needs to change in football?

A: We need more women in all roles at all levels through the game. There are now many in senior positions, but not enough, and the boards of football clubs still rate poorly in terms of diversity. The boards of the FTSE100 and of most British national governing bodies are now minimum 30% female. And we need to consider not just gender, but also BAME, LGBT+, and other historically excluded groups. 

Q: Caitlin via email - Do I need to have played football to work in the game?

A: Absolutely not! The football industry needs great skills in many areas: media, law, finance, business, HR, CSR, marketing … I could go on.

Q: @Empritty via @Twitter - I want to go into a career in football is getting a degree in sport science worth it?

A: It's absolutely one of the routes into working in the game. Study hard, work hard, and good luck! Let us know how you get on.

Q: @SAFCSALondon via @TwitterUK - What’s been your proudest moment as a woman in football to date? Professionally, and as a supporter?

A: Great question. I could write a very long thread on this!

Professionally, it’s perhaps summarised best in a picture.

When I left the Premier League in 2015, the clubs presented me with that. Putting in place strong governance was a team effort, not least from the clubs, but yes I am so proud of what I did.

As a fan - a stand-out was the 2014 League Cup Final at Old Trafford. The moment that got to me was looking out from the hospitality suite I was in (!) and seeing the most enormous fleet of buses I have seen - bringing our fans from Sunderland and all over County Durham. I just felt so, so proud of my club, my city, my region.

Q: Morgan via email - How did you get involved in football?

A: My dad took me when I was little, I played a bit in the 80s when it was still rare to play, and then I had a stroke of luck when a friend signposted me to my first job in football with @SunderlandAFC.

Q: Helen via email - in your career, who have been the men in football who have been the biggest supporters and enablers of women in football?

A: I've been lucky to work with many men at all levels of the game who were genuinely gender-blind: chairmen, managers, coaches. Here at @WomeninFootball we have many male allies and supporters who work hard to support women progressing in the industry.

Q: @SAFCSALondon via @TwitterUK - Marco Gabbiadini or Kevin Phillips?

A: Paul Bracewell

Q: Sam via email - how can clubs increase support for their women’s teams?

A: One thing clubs can do is ensure that their women’s teams are well supported and profiled on club websites and social media channels. Clubs could also think about special events for their fans and corporates to showcase the women’s game to them, e.g. live screenings of this summer’s #FIFAWWC games.

The experience of fans who go to watch the other team that proudly wears their colours is that the passion immediately transfers, and they end up cheering for them too.

Q from Aysha via email: How can I get involved in Women in Football?

A: Simple - sign up on our website! It’s free to join and we welcome applications from women working in football, or interested in working in football, and from men too who support our aims

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