How are women and female athletes represented in sports? Find the lastest the key statistics on women’s participation in sports in 2020.

We’ve curated, vetted, and categorized a list of up-to-date stats below.

  1. Top Statistics on Women's Participation in Sports 2020
  2. Girls participation in sports
  3. Female Leaders in Sports
  4. Female athletes at the Olympic Games
  5. Women’s sport and the media

1. Top Statistics on Women's Participation in Sports 2020

  • 37 % of women exercise or play sports at least once a week compared with 45 % of men. More women (47 %) than men (37 %) never exercise or play sports. (Source: EIGE)
  • 83 % of sports awarded men and women equal prize money by 2020 (Source: EPRS)
  • For the 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympic Games the IOC has predicted that the female participation will reach a high as 48.8 % (Source: IOC)

2. Girls participation in sports

Boys still overtake girls in school sports. Here are some key stats on how girls participate in sports in the US.

  • Girls (20 %) are less likely than boys (28 %) to meet the daily activity recommendations (Source: Aspen Institute, 2019)
  • 39 % of high school girls do not participate in any sport. In comparison, only 28.6 % of high school girls practice 2+ sports, whereas 46.6 % of high school boys exercise 2 or more sports simultaneously. (Source: WSF Teen Sport Report, 2018)
  • 44 % of high school students with disabilities who participated in sports in 2019 were female students (a total of 6.960 of 15.571) (Source: womenssportsfoundation.org)
  • Girls have 42.9 % of opportunities to compete in high school sports in 2019 (a total of 3.402.733 of 7.937.491) (Source: High School Athletics Participation Survey)

3. Female Leaders in Sports

As inspiring role models for women within sports we take a close look at the statistics of female leaders:

Female representation in the Olympic Committees

  • 11 % of the coaching staff at the Olympic Games 2016 in Rio consisted of women (Source: IOC)
  • 47.7 % of the positions for the IOC’s 30 commissions are held by women in 2020, having a minimum of one female member represented in each commission. From 2013 to 2019 the number of women in the IOC’s commission increased by 124 %. (Source: IOC, Reuters)
  • 29 % IOC Board of Directors are represented by women in 2018 (Source: IOC Sustainability report)
  • On the executive level of the National Olympic Committee, women only accounted for 7.5 % of listed NOC presidents and 16.2% of listed secretary generals (Source: WSF)
  • In 2016, the IOC Executive Board decided that 30 % of the decision-making positions should be filled by women by 2020. (Source: IOC Gender Equality Review Project)
  • The total representation of women in IOC’s leadership positions remains at 29 % (Source: WSF)
  • Women only make up 26.7 % of current IOC Executive Board members. That is 4 out of 15 members are women: Anita L. DeFrantz (Vice President), Nicole Hoevertsz, Kirsty Coventry and Nawal ElMoutawakel. (Source: IOC)


Female Athlete Coaches

  • 27 % of youth sports head coaches were women, according to SFIA data (Source: Aspen Institute, 2019)
  • Less than a third (32.9 %) of all head coaches at US college level are female (4.983 women versus 15.162 men) (Source: NCAA)
  • 82% of female coaches receive more positive ratings by girls than male coaches (73%). Accordingly, girls find it easier to identify with female mentors and role models. (Source: Aspen Institute, 2019)
  • 20-30 % of all European sports coaches are women (Source: EPRS)
  • 12.1% of main coaches for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games were women, primarily coaching figure skating or ice dancing. (Source: WSF)
  • Female coaches are overrepresented in sports viewed as “more feminine”, like dancing, cheerleading, and gymnastics (85% and above). Accordingly, women coaches are underrepresented in sports viewed at “more masculine”, like soccer, basketball, and martial arts (35 % and below) (Source: WSF)
  • 58% of US girls (age 7-17) have female coaches, whereas 88% of boys have a male coaches (Source, WSF, 2020)

4. Female athletes at the Olympic Games

  • 45% per cent of the participants at the 2016 Games in Rio were women. This accounts for 5.176 women out of 11.444 athlete participants.

  • With a total of 306 Olympic events, female athletes were only part of 145 events in Rio, 2016. Women were represented in less than half (47,4%) of the Olympic sporting events, leaving fewer participation opportunities than their male counterparts. (Source: IOC)
  • 1,204 female athletes (41.4%) and 1,704 male athletes (58.6%) participated at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. (Source: WSF)
  • For the Tokyo 2020  Summer Olympics (postponed to 2021) one female and one male athlete will jointly bear their flag during the Opening Ceremony for each country. (Source: Tokyo2020)

5. Women’s sport and the media

We take a close look at how the media portraits female athletes in sporting events:

  • During the 2018  2018 Olympic Winter Games women counted for 43 % of articles exceeding male athletes (40%). 17 % of the media coverage discussed both women and men (Source: WSF)
  • 3.2 % of all sport media coverage is devoted to women, even though women count for 40 % of all sports participants in the US. (Source: Cooky, 2015)
  • 1.12 billion viewers tuned in to watch the FIFA Women’s world cup of 2019 (Source: FIFA)
  • In the general coverage of sports journalism, only 8 % of articles are written by female sports journalists and 88 % of media coverage is dedicated to male athletes. (Source: MHMK)
  • 84% of sports fans are interested in women’s sports, whereas 51% are male and 49% are women, confirming a gender-balanced audience. (Source: Nielsen)