Flexible Uniform Options Promote Women And Girls Participation
The latest phase of the Effects of Sport Uniform Policy Changes to Girls and Women study has shown 48% of participants agree flexible uniform policies and regulations encourage ongoing participation in sport for girls and women.
The study, conducted by a team of researchers led by Victoria University Institute for Health and Sport professor, Clare Hanlon, found flexible uniform policies and regulations broadly improve girls’ and women’s comfort, readiness, and desire to play.
The study in this phase focused on case studies across netball, swimming and cricket, and expanded on the initial phase conducted in 2020 which identified which uniforms make girls feel comfortable and confident when playing sport.
Specifically, the study found the change in uniform led to a 41% increase in confidence, a 34% increase to happiness, a 28% increase of freedom, and a 20% increase to performance according to its participants, who also reported they felt 30% less self-conscious.
Discussing the research project, Hanlon said a key driver behind the project was to uncover the role body image plays in whether girls are physically active and the significant drop-off in sport participation once girls reach adolescence.
“Findings from these case studies provide evidence on the positive effects flexible sport uniform policies/regulations have to girls and women,” Hanlon said.
“It encourages girls and women to stay in sport and in these cases, increased their enjoyment in swimming or playing cricket or netball.
“Clearly not one ‘style’ fits all team members or individuals so there is a need for consistent flexible uniform policies/regulations across sport in all associations – one that is actively promoted and educates and encourages member clubs to embrace,” she said.
The Victorian Office for Women in Sport and Recreation director, Sarah Styles, who recently spoke with Ministry of Sport about the Change Our Game initiative, said: “Dismantling the barriers to participation in sport for women and girls is crucial to ensuring every Victorian can enjoy the many physical, mental and social benefits of an active lifestyle.”
“These findings are clear – providing the freedom of choice for girls in their sports uniforms will help their enjoyment of sport and keep them playing sport,” Styles said.
The researchers, in delivering their findings, suggested sporting organisations, clubs, and schools work to encourage women and girls sport participation by providing a flexible uniform policy which includes, for example, a choice of shorts, skirts, or leggings in team colours.