Research Report: Sport for Success - how sport helps women achieve professionally - Women In Sport

Research Report: Sport for Success – how sport helps women achieve professionally

Published 2017

“If you can give women the boost you get from having done sport, having been really successful at that, I think that can be really, really helpful”.  Research participant

Female hockey players on green pitch

Executive Summary

The health benefits of leading an active lifestyle are widely known and researched but – until now – there has been little research into the socio-economic benefits of taking part in sport and physical activity.

This research reaffirms how playing sport can help to develop skills and qualities valuable for women’s personal progression. Sport for Success also highlights how the workplace can benefit from the increased effectiveness of female staff who play sport.

Report Contents:

  • Exploring being active and personal progression.
  • Playing sport and skill development.
  • Team working.
  • Strengthening personal motivation.
  • Managing stress and pressure.
  • Harnessing the benefits of women playing sport at work.


  • Women who play sport have higher levels of educational qualifications and confidence.
  • Women aged 16-24 who engage in sport at least once a week are significantly more likely to be in a management role than those who do not play any sport.
  • Women who play regular sport are more motivated to achieve long term goals.
  • Potential employers find being active an attractive trait in potential employees.
  • Playing sport can help develop certain skills that can lead to successful careers:
    • Growing confidence
    • Self-belief
    • Taking on challenges
    • Integrity
    • Assertiveness
    • Effective communication
    • Commitment to goals
  • Participation in sport has a very valuable role to play in helping women to perform at their best in their studies and at the workplace.
  • The experience of taking part in sport can help to develop skills and qualities valuable for personal progression, whether academic or professional.
  • Skills learnt include those which are known to be particularly useful in leadership and often in areas where women are thought to struggle.
  • Workplaces can gain from the increased effectiveness of their female staff who are active. This has further implications at a macro level; with higher performing organisations, the wider economy also benefits.



  1. The impact of Engagement in Sport on Graduate Employability. (2013). Sport Industry Research Centre. Sheffield Hallam University.
  2. The link between pupil health and wellbeing and attainment. (2014). Public Health England.
  3. Where will you find your next leader? (2015). EY & espnW.
  4. Women in Sport (2017). Beyond 30%: Female Leadership in Sport.
  5. Women in Sport (2015). Trophy Women? No More Board Games.

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