While sportswomen are becoming increasingly visible, there is still little spotlight shone on the women working hard to smash sport’s glass ceilings off the pitch and in the boardroom.
But just as sportswomen themselves are breaking records, so too are lots of women around the country who have prominent roles in the running of the sports industry.
At GiveMeSport we wanted to celebrate these women who are making waves and showing that women can (and should!) work and thrive in all areas of sport.
Debbie Jevans has worked across some of the biggest sporting events in the UK since she retired from her career as a professional tennis player. First up was London 2012. She became the Director of Sport for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) – the first woman in Olympic history to be appointed to such a role.
After that, she became chief executive of the organising committee for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. In 2014 she switched to football, becoming an independent director on the board of the English Football League.
In 2018, Jevans was appointed as the interim chairwoman of the EFL, becoming the first woman to lead one of English football’s leading bodies. In June 2019 she became the executive chair while she oversaw the recruitment of a CEO for the league.
Former netballer Liz Nicholl spent twenty years working at UK Sport, including nine years as CEO. She stepped down in 2018 but during her tenure, she oversaw the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics and Team GB’s record medal haul at Rio 2016.
Nicholl also played a role in bringing the IAAF World Championship to the county in 2017 and multiple Tour De France stages.
In 2019, Nicholl was named as the president of the International Netball Federation.
Joanna Coates was CEO of England Netball from 2015 to 2019 and worked for the governing body for nearly ten years.
During her time in charge, she was part of the team who guided the Vitality Roses to victory at the 2018 Commonwealth Games where they won their historic gold medal. The sport also saw record growth.
In February, Coates took on a new challenge and was appointed CEO of UK Athletics following a turbulent year for the organisation.
Barbara Slater became the director of sport at the BBC in 2009. Before that, she had worked as head of production and of general sports. As part of her role, she is responsible for roughly 20,000 hours of sports coverage across the broadcaster’s channels each year.
As well as overseeing coverage of the biggest sportings events each year, in 2019 Slater and the BBC launched Change the Game, a campaign to celebrate and showcase the coverage of women’s sport on the BBC.
As the sports editor for the Mail on Sunday, Alison Kervin became the first woman to hold a sports editor position at a national newspaper in England. Before this, Kervin was chief sports feature writer for The Times and chief sports interviewer for the Daily Telegraph.
As well as being a celebrated sports journalist, Kervin is a novelist and non-fiction author.
GiveMeSport Women’s very own Benny Bonsu has had an extensive career in the world of sport and as head of editorial for women’s sports at GiveMeSport, she is the first women’s sports editor in the UK. Benny Bonsu is at the forefront of women’s sports coverage in the UK after GiveMeSport Women was launched in 2019.
A platform that known for being unapologetic, bold, and honest when it comes to reporting women’s stories, Bonsu has built a space where GiveMeSport W has quickly become one of the most recognised women’s sports publishers globally. Bonsu has covered the NBA Finals, FIFA Women’s and Men’s World Cup, Africa Cup of Nations, World Athletics Champions, EuroLeague Final Fours, Premier League, Women’s Super League, BBL and WBBL Finals and NBA Africa Games for many years.
She is a renowned and award-winning broadcaster and has worked for the BBC, Sky Sports, BT Sports, NBA, NBA Africa, NBPA, IMG and many more. Bonsu was the sports operations, and policies manager for LOCOG and the became a producer for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. A silent leader within the sporting space, Bonsu continues to lead change for many athletes across the globe while using her voice to advocate for more diversity in newsrooms across the UK and within the sports industry.
A board of director for Basketball England and also the Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust (DOWAT). She founded the Girls in Sport Foundation #BETHENEXT mentoring program, former mentor for the Cherie Blair Foundation and is a UN Women Ambassador for ending violence against women and girls.
In 2017, Ellie Norman made the switch from a role at Virgin Media to Formula One’s director of marketing and communications. In doing so she became the first female executive in the sport.
As part of her role, Norman has been working to bring F1 to new audiences and she played a role in the decision to remove grid girls from the sport.
Baroness Sue Campbell
Baroness Sue Campbell is the head of women’s football at The FA. She assumed the role in 2016 after having been chair of UK Sport. Campbell helped found the Youth Sport Trust and worked as an advisor to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education and Skills.
She became a crossbench peer in the House of Lords in 2008 and was made a dame in the 2020 New Year Honours for her services to sport.
Through her work at the FA, she is championing the women’s game, and during her time there the WSL has become a professional league and is reaching ever-increasing audiences.
Motorsports are a family affair for Claire Williams who joined the family business, Williams F1, in 2002 as a communications officer after a brief stint as a press officer for the Silverstone Circuit.
Since then Williams worked her way up the F1 team and in 2013 she became deputy team principal. In her job, she is responsible for the day-to-day running of the team and its long-term development.
Before Caroline McAteer worked in the world of sports she did PR for the Spice Girls. She then went on to represent David Beckham and found The Sports PR Company.
Her clients now include high profile footballers including Didier Drogba, Dele Alli and perhaps the most famous of them all, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Vicky Kloss is the chief communications officer for Manchester City and has been since 2008 but she worked for the club since 2001 in different communications roles. Prior to that, she worked as a detective in the Metropolitan Police.
Kloss’ role involves communicating with audiences around the world and during her time at the club it has gone from a newly promoted Premier League side to a regular fixture at the top of the table.
As CEO of Tongue Tied Media, Jo Tongue heads up a sports management agency helping sporting and broadcasting talent progress their careers. Tongue Tied Media has an impressive roster of clients including many well-known women in sport from Leah Williamson to Serena Guthrie to Emma Hayes.
Before moving into sports management, Tongue was a sports reporter for the BBC. She is also a director and board member of Women in Football.
Anna Kessel MBE
Through her position as The Telegraph Women’s Sports Editor. Anna Kessel is one of the women leading the change in women’s sports coverage in the UK. It is the first UK newspaper to have a dedicated desk covering women’s sport and was launched in 2019.
Before moving to The Telegraph, Kessel worked for the Guardian and Observer, covering multiple Olympics, World Cups and World Championships. She is a co-founder of Women in Football and author of the book Eat, Sweat, Play: How Sport Can Change Your Life.
Kirsten Rausing is one of the richest women in Britain with Forbes putting her at 150 on the worlds billionaires list as the co-owner of packaging company TetraLaval, founded by her grandfather and now co-owned by Rausing and her brothers.
Away from the boardroom, Rausing is a key figure in horse racing as the chairman of The International Thoroughbred Breeders Federation. She is the owner and general manager of Lanwades, St Simon and Staffordstown Studs where she breeds race-winning horses.
Since 2019 Heather Taylor has worked at agency Stats Perform as their vice president for global sports rights.
Before this, she spent eight years at Sport England and then two years at digital product agency Ostmodern as their head of sports partnerships.
Editor in chief of the Olympic Channel, Mary Byrne, leads the channel’s editorial strategy across digital, social media and news platforms.
Before joining the Olympic Channel in 2017, Byrne had over 25 years of experience in journalism serving as the senior deputy editor for ESPN Digital & Print Media among other roles.
The Olympic Channel is based in Madrid but as a global brand, we thought we just had to include Byrne on our list.
While Clare Wardle’s day job is working for Coca Cola as their chief counsel and company secretary overseeing the company’s legal, risk and compliance departments, she is also heavily involved in sport.
Wardle has been the independent chair of Basketball England since 2016 and a non-executive director of Modern Pentathlon GB. Wardle herself has competed in varsity modern pentathlon and her sporting interests include horse riding, rowing and ocean racing.
Marina Granovskaia has worked as a senior advisor to Roman Abramovic for 18 years and following his purchase of Chelsea Football Club, Granovskaia moved to London in 2003. Since 2010 she has acted as his representative at the club and in 2013 she joined the board as a director, focusing on player transactions.
Maggie Murphy is general manager at Lewes FC Women, the first football club in the world to pay their men’s and women’s team the same wages. She joined in 2019 from the Sport Integrity Global Alliance, where she was a director of public policy and sport integrity.
The club made their commitment to equality in 2017 before Murphy joined but she has been continuing to spread their messaging. Away from the club, she is the director of communications at Equal Playing Field, a grassroots organisation challenging gender inequalities in sport.
Through her work with Equal Playing Field, Murphy is the owner of multiple Guinness World Records including the highest game of football at altitude and the most players in a five-a-side football match.
One of the most recognisable women in sports broadcasting, Gabby Logan has worked for the BBC since 2007 after stints at Sky Sports and ITV. At the BBC she has covered everything from the Olympics to the Premier League to women’s football.
Away from presenting, the former international gymnast is a patron of the Disabilities Trust, Prince’s Trust and Great Ormond Street, and a vice president of Sparks.
Michelle Walder is the CEO and co-founder of a consultancy company called TXG. She is also the first female director and board member of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club.
She joined the club in 2016 and has witnessed the rise of both the men’s and women’s teams to the top flights of English football in that time.
Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale
Professor Dense Barrett-Baxendale holds many roles at Everton Football Club. She is a director, the club’s CEO and the executive chair of their charity Everton in the Community. She is also a board member at Sport England.
Barrett-Baxendale worked in education for 16 years before crossing over into football. She joined Everton in 2010 and became CEO in 2018.
Executive director of Tottenham Hotspurs, Donna-Maria Cullen joined the club’s board in 2006. Before that, she had been advising the club for 14 years and working in management consultancy and corporate affairs for over 25 years.
Cullen’s role includes looking after Spurs’ commercial partnerships, marketing, communications and new business departments. In addition, she is a trustee for the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and a director at the Tottenham University Technical College.
Susan Whelan joined Leicester City FC as their CEO in 2011 and under her leadership, the club has gone from strength to strength. In the 2013/14 season, they won the Championship and were promoted to the Premier League.
In the 2015/2016 Leicester went even further and made history winning their first Premier League title. In 2019, Whelan was named a Deputy Lieutenant of Leicestershire, in honour of her contributions to the city and surrounding communities.
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