Women's Sport: Olympic swimmer Petria Thomas on the gap between women's sport and female elite coaching

Womens 100m Butterfly Medal Ceremony

In Australia, there is a gap between the number of women in sport and the number of women coaching sport. 

Australia has seen the number of coaches for their Olympic team who are women fall from 12 per cent at the London 2012 Games to nine per cent at Rio 2016. 

Australian swimmer, Petria Thomas, who was the 100m butterfly champion and three-time gold medal winner for Australia at the Athens Olympics in 2004 has highlighted the issue, talking to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Thomas observed: "Most sports are male-dominated apart from traditional women's sports like netball and even there you see male coaches."

She is now the high-performance general manager at Gymnastics Australia and she offers multiple reasons for this disparity. She says: "There is a number of factors and the life circumstances of the female is a big one, then breaking through in a male-dominated industry is really challenging."

"Even when you have women who break through to those elite ranks, it can be quite an intimidating industry when you are in the minority," adds Thomas.

This lack of women who coach at an elite level is something that she wants to see changed. She explains: "It's really disappointing because women have a lot of skills and a lot to offer. It's important to have variety in everything and I'd like to see more women coaches across the spectrum of sport."

For Thomas, the solution depends on "giving more women the opportunity and confidence to take that step up and make them the best person for the job."

"If we could break through those barriers more than I'm sure we would see more great women coaches. But it is a struggle and there are no quick answers."

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