In this series we will be shining a spotlight on some of the inspiring women who are breaking down barriers, leading by example, and paving the way for the future of women in Sports. There are so many incredible women that are changing the world of Sport, and we wish we could shout about them all - this list rounds up just a few of our top picks of women in Sport.
We recently saw the hugely celebrated win for the England Lionesses as they made history, taking away England’s first major trophy since 1966 - which caused conversation around equality in women’s sport. Although the team was getting a lot of positive press and people were thrilled with the outcome, why is this the only time they were receiving this kind of hype? - a huge difference in comparison to the constant media coverage of their male counterparts!
Did you know that the English Football Association effectively banned the sport for women in 1921, because they were ‘worried the growing popularity of women’s games was threatening to attract too large a crowd’?
And that’s just the disparity and inequality women have faced in football! - The sports industry on a whole is a typicaly unequal industry, from the sports players to commentators, journalists etc - Men in sports make anywhere from 15% to 100% more than female athletes.
It’s time to challenge the stereotyping and bias that can still pervade the sports industry, particularly within the male-dominated sports world. Showcasing more women’s sports will inspire the next generation, help attract and retain more diverse talent to help maximise innovation, creativity and competitiveness, close the gap between men and women, and pave the way for a brighter future - which is the exact reason why we’ve compiled this list.
This list of women in sports are true changemakers, breaking boundaries and paving the way for the future of females in this industry - hoping to inspire more females to follow their career dreams.
Alex Scott - Footballer and Sports Presenter
Alex Scott is an English sports presenter, pundit, and former professional footballer who played as a right-back for Arsenal in the FA WSL. She made 140 appearances for the England national team and represented Great Britain at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
At club level, she has had three separate spells with Arsenal, punctuated with a season at Birmingham City and spent three years in the American Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) with Boston Breakers. She’s also known for scoring the winning goal for Arsenal in the 2007 UEFA Women’s Cup Final.
In 2019, Scott was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame for her achievements, and in the same year, she was a pundit for BBC Sport and Sky Sports, featured during the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She also covers the English Premier League.
Alex has been subject to a number of discriminatory articles and comments over this time and although she has had great success, has been a target of criticism over the years. This hasn’t stopped Alex from doing what she loves and is a huge ambassador for women in sport.
Charlene Gravesande - Sports Journalist for Sky Sports
Charlene is a multi-award-winning Sports Journalist with a demonstrated history of working in the broadcast media industry, with over 10 years of experience working at Sky Sports. Charlene is skilled in broadcasting, news writing, and editing and has been acknowledged a number of times for her strong sports media skills.
Most recently Charlene was added to the 2020 Football Black List, which shines a light on black professionals within the industry, and celebrates the achievements of black role models setting the sector ablaze.
Charlene has worked on a huge number of news pieces since starting with Sky Sports and last year worked on ‘George Floyd: one year on what’s changed?’ a groundbreaking piece that investigated how the tragic death of George Floyd had affected the football industry.
Charlene is using her voice and her talent to showcase important parts of the sporting industry, set to inspire the next generation.
Deborah Jevans CBE - Former British Tennis Player & Chairman of All England Club
Deborah is a British former tennis player and current sports executive. Jevans is a former junior Wimbledon champion and played in ten Grand Slam singles draws between 1979 and 1983, with her best result being in the fourth round of Wimbledon, losing to Virginia Wade. In 1978 she reached the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles event at Wimbledon.
She has had a lengthy and inspiring career in sport; in 1987, at the age of 27, she took on the role of director of the Women’s Game at the International Tennis Federation and in 1991 became general secretary, and in 2003 was appointed director of sports for the London 2012 Olympics. After the Olympic and Paralympic Games, she took over the post of chief executive for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which led her to top the list of the 50 most influential women in British sport.
Since stepping down from her role at the Rugby World Cup, she has gone on to become a member of the board of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) and is also a non-executive director of the English Football League having been appointed this role in 2014. She is now on track to become the first female chairman of the Club.
Deborah has taken her love of sport, and her sporting talents to the next level, being a huge influence on other women in the industry and acting as a mentor for many.
Eniola Aluko - Sporting Director at Angel City FC
Eniola Aluko has been involved in top-level football for over half her lifetime. She broke into Birmingham City’s first team aged 14 and from there the only way was up.
She fired Birmingham to the second-tier title aged 15. She made her England debut at 17. Then on to Charlton, Chelsea and club football in the USA and Italy.
To three World Cups – including a third-place finish in 2015 – and two European Championships during a 102-cap international career - and she’s received three WSL titles, two FA Cups, a Scudetto and a Coppa Italia.
Now she is at the top of the game in a different sense - in the boardroom, as Sporting Director of the NWSL’s newest club, Angel City, which is part-owned by a team of powerful women; Serena Williams, Eva Longoria, Natalie Portman and Mia Hamm as well as Eniola herself, as they bring women’s football back to Los Angeles after an 11-year hiatus.
As well as her own extensive career, and now working towards the success of a huge team, Eniola is a huge advocate for women in sports and has worked closely with Football Beyond Borders, which educates disadvantaged people through football.
Hayley Bennett - Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Consultant and Co-Founder of Nutmegs
Hayley Bennett is a multi-award-winning DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Consultant and campaigner. She began her career at Kick It Out, football’s inclusion organisation, before moving out of football to learn and create best practice within other sectors in multiple roles as a DEI consultant and advisor. Over the past ten years, Hayley has been providing advice and consultancy to over 200 of the world’s largest employers and global brands.
As well as her work with DEI, she runs Nutmegs, a football community for women and non-binary people of colour and was named one of the most influential Black people in football on the 2020 Football Blacklist. In 2021, Nike recognised her as a game-changer in sports she was a Sports Industry Next Gen 30 under 30 Leader for 2021.
Hayley is a Director for Spirit of 2012, the London 2012 legacy charity and a trustee for Goals4Girls. She also lectures on Race and Sport at the University of Bolton and is currently researching the experiences of women from Black and minority-ethic backgrounds in sports leadership positions.
The work Hayley is doing is so important for the community and paves the way for a great future for women in sports.
Jacqui Oatley OBE - Sports commentator at Sky Sports
Jacqui Oatley is one of Britain’s leading sports presenters and commentators - a hugely respected and versatile broadcaster with almost two decades of experience.
Jacqui made history in 2007 as the first female commentator on Match of the Day and has been racking up many “firsts” ever since. She is currently the lead commentator on Sky Sports’ coverage of the FA Women’s Super League and presents EFL on Quest as well as darts for ITV Sport.
As a former player and FA-qualified coach, Jacqui has commentated, reported, and presented at several major football tournaments around the world, including FIFA World Cups, Euros and Olympic Games as well as multiple FIFA Women’s World Cups and Euros for both TV and radio.
Jacqui was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours list for services to broadcasting and diversity in sport. The award was in recognition of her work behind the scenes championing the role of women working in football as well as the promotion of the women’s game.
As well as her number of impressive accolades, Jacqui is also a Women in Football ambassador, advocating for the next generation of women in sport, and serves on the national committee of the Football Writers’ Association.
Jess Roper - Athlete and Speaker at Sports for Schools
Physical fitness is a prerequisite to achieving academic and social potential. Sports for Schools mission is to help schools and parents understand and make use of this through a range of events and workshops - and they’re doing so with the help of athletes like Jess.
Kickboxing champion, Jess is on a mission to empower others to dream big, to equip them with the skills, and confidence, to turn those dreams into reality! Jess is working to align teams, and communities, through the power of public speaking.
“From being incapable of doing 1 push-up, when I first began kickboxing, I know the importance of STARTING SMALL. Helping people find their consistent 1% improvements, which will result in CHAMPION SUCCESS!”
Jess is telling her story and inspiring many through her public speaking workshops and is working alongside Sports For Schools, which put elite-level athletes like herself in primary schools to motivate children to get more active.
Sharing her story; ‘The FUN and the fear of becoming a champion’ in primary schools across the U.K. Running assemblies and assisting ’Sportivator’ session, to motivate children to get more active, and enjoy exercise - she is truly on a mission to help
Judith Miller - CEO of Aspire Sports Trust
Aspire Sports Trust is a registered charity that transforms lives through physical activity and sport. In particular, focusing on improving the health, well-being, life skills and education of children and young people - operating in the UK and Africa
Judith became CEO of Aspire Sports Trust in 2017. With over thirty years of leadership experience in both education and the voluntary sector, Judith has led and developed teams at local, regional and national levels. She has worked at a strategic level as a senior director for a national charity and has a wealth of experience at the board level and is a qualified executive coach. Judith recently stepped down as Chair of YMCA Sutton Coldfield after 18 years of voluntary service, and is currently an elected representative of Baptist Union Council of England and Wales, joint lead for EMCC UK (European Mentoring and Coaching Council) Third Sector Forum and a member of EMCC UK Business Development Group.
Judith is working with Aspire to help children and young people across the UK and Africa learn more life skills, become more employable, and improve health and wellbeing through sports.
Jules Breach - Broadcaster for BT Sport
Jules Breach is a broadcast journalist who has led presenting roles for BT Sport, Premier League Productions & CBS.
Jules is one of the most in-demand sports presenters working in the UK today. She hosts worldwide coverage for Premier League Productions - presenting three shows for the global audience; Football Fanzone, Premier League Today a weekly round-up show and The Weekend Preview show every Friday.
Jules also presents live premier league matches for both PLP & BT as well as being one of the main presenters for the Europa League coverage on BT Sport. Her football knowledge extends from the Premier League to the English football league, nonleague, and Scottish football and she has been passionately involved with the growing women’s game and has hosted WSL match coverage for BT Sport.
Jules’ knowledge matched by her warm personality makes her a very popular choice for presenting live, for both businesses and the viewers. Jules’s broadcast credits also extend to radio, having hosted a variety of shows on TalkSPORT including Friday night’s Gameday Countdown and hosting the build-up to the FA and League cup matches from Wembley’s BoxPark.
Jules has truly proven herself as a favourite in the sports presenting world and is a great example to the next generation.
Louise Gear - Head of Women’s Football Development at the Football Association
Louise is the Head of Women’s Football Development at the Football Association and joined the organisation in November 2017. Prior to taking up her role at the FA, she oversaw the work of multiple teams at the Youth Sport Trust, including Physical Education; Sport and Development. Louise served the charity for 17 years and was responsible for establishing the School Sport Partnership network in England, working with various government departments and Sport England.
She is now pioneering the Women’s and Girls grassroots strategy at the FA, with a vision to transform the game for girls, in schools and clubs by 2024. Louise is currently responsible for the Doubling Participation ambition within the FAs Gameplan for Growth strategy. This includes the large-scale national programme for 5-11-year-old girls ‘Wildcats’ that won a UEFA Award last season. With a background in high-performance sport, Louise represented England at U18, U21 and Senior levels in netball, touring New Zealand and Fiji for the World Youth Cup.
Meehra Gorasia - Talent Delivery Officer at Basketball England
Meehra is a Talent Delivery Officer working in a small team to develop and implement a world-class talent system for players, volunteers and professionals to develop in an inclusive and progressive way to fulfil Basketball England’s potential.
She began her career in the sports industry at Manchester United Football Club in 2016 as a Performance Analyst, where she would use high-tech equipment to analyse the performance of the team to effectively support coach and player feedback. She then went on to a number of other roles that all focused on executing analysis, to help create better teams.
Her role at Basketball England now situates her as a team manager, providing efficient and effective support to both the players and the coaching/support team. She also works on all of the talent academy programmes, helping support recruitment with talent, managing budgets for players etc.
From her extensive experience in finding talent for teams, Meehra is playing a huge role in developing a groundbreaking basketball team for England - who recently played in the 2022 commonwealth 3x3 event.
Penny Briscoe OBE - Director of Sport at the British Paralympic Association
Britain’s first female chef de mission at a Games in leading the British Paralympic team and one of the very few women doing so in the international Paralympic movement. Penny is one of the most experienced figures in Paralympic sport and as performance director one of the key players behind Britain’s summer Games success over the past four cycles.
Penny Briscoe has over 30 years of experience in elite sports as an athlete, coach, manager and director.
Her journey to the top started in 1983 as a Great Britain Canoeing Junior, from which she went on to compete at under 23 and senior levels, including the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. After this, she moved into coaching and programme management with British Canoeing becoming a Senior National Coach, before moving to the British Paralympic Association in 2001, where she is now the Director of Sport.
She is responsible for the preparation strategy in the lead-up to competitions and world games, which is a key part of the work of the association. Penny has worked tirelessly towards engaging and collaborating with the home institutes and national governing bodies, to create an incredibly successful Great Britain Paralympic team - and is doing so incredibly.
Stephanie Hilborne OBE - Chief Executive of Women in Sport
Women in Sport charity was founded in 1984 and has a track record of success in securing change based on its deep understanding of the needs and aspirations of women and girls at each life stage and its determination to break down stubborn gender inequalities through its work within the sports sector and beyond. Their experts and programmes are driving innovation and impactful solutions to tackling gender inequalities in sport. They’re empowering more women and girls to be active.
Led by Stephanie, an experienced CEO, she brings a wealth of knowledge to Women in Sport. She has been instrumental in changing opinions and behaviour, which will be vital for the next phase of Women in Sport’s work in creating equal opportunities for women and girls in sport.
Stephanie believes in leaving the planet in a better state for future generations and is a strong advocate for the outdoors and active living. She understands the impact this can have on wellbeing and long-term health and believes strongly in the power of sport to empower women.
Stephanie is on a mission to make sports a far more inclusive and diverse industry by encouraging girls and women to fulfil their dreams.
Tammy Parlour MBE - CEO of Women’s Sport Trust
Women’s Sport Trust is raising the visibility & increasing the impact of women’s sport, Creating a bold, unapologetic and independently successful women’s sport ecosystem. Tammy co-founded Women’s Sport Trust in 2012 and leads the organisation as CEO today.
Tammy works with leaders from across sports, media and business to understand how to practically raise visibility, increase impact and create a stronger women’s sports ecosystem. She was awarded an MBE in the New Year 2019 Honours List for services to gender equality in sport.
Tammy is a Master in the Korean martial art of Hapkido, having practised for 40 years. She set up her own Hapkido and meditation school in the early 90s and still coaches regularly. Tammy holds an MSc in Strength & Conditioning, and post-graduate study in Applied Sport Psychology.
With a specific interest in women’s football, she also volunteers as a Board Director for AFC Wimbledon Ladies FC.
Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE - Paralympian and Patron of Youth Sport Trust
The Youth Sport Trust equips educators and empowers young people with the vision of creating a future where every child enjoys the life-changing benefits of play and sport.
One of Britain’s greatest Paralympic athletes, Tanni has joined the board of Youth Sport as a patron - helping them on their mission to support youth. Tani has amassed a remarkable medal haul over 16 years and five Paralympic Games of 11 gold, 4 silver and a bronze and is recognised as one of the most gifted and courageous sportswomen of her generation.
In 2005 she became ‘Dame’ Tanni Grey-Thompson for her services to sport. In March 2010, Tanni was made a life peer and was conferred as Baroness Grey-Thompson, of Eaglescliffe in the County of Durham.
Tanni has continued to be involved in sports and physical activity. She is also a Board Member of the London Marathon, the SportsAid Foundation, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and Join In. In addition to this, she is also a Board Member of several organisations including Transport for London, the London Legacy Development Corporation and the London 2017 Organising Committee.
Are you a woman in sport with a story to tell? Why not enter the Great British Businesswoman Awards, and let us celebrate you and your achievements - enter here.
You can also nominate someone you know, who deserves to be shouted about - nominate here.