Women Playing Sport Is Good For Business

The benefits of women playing sport are huge, not just for personal fitness but for the country's economy


This week is Women's Sport Week. Hot off the success of the GB Women's Hockey making history and bringing home Gold from the Rio Olympics, now is the time to celebrate women's sports more than ever.

But there's also an onus on encouraging more girls and women to participate in sport, from school and university to teams at work.

Research carried out by Women in Sport and Investec, has shown just how beneficial playing sports can be for women, not only for personal health and wellbeing but also for their performance at work.


From the survey of 1,000 female business executives, almost half (48%) were found to take part in sport/exercise once a month or more.

Did you know Condoleezza Rice (former Secretary of State) was a former figure skater?

She has said: 'I believe I may have learnt more from my failed figure-skating career than I did from anything else. Athletics gives you a kind of toughness and discipline that nothing else really does.'

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice playing golf

And Head of the IMF Christine LaGarde?

She was a synchronised swimmer on the French National Team and won Bronze in the National Championships when she was 15-years-old.

'It was synchronized swimming that taught me: "Grit your teeth and smile"' she has said on what she learnt most by being part of a sports team.

According to the study, 1 in 4 female senior decision makers agreed that playing sport has helped them to build confidence in their career.

To kick off Women's Sport Week, GB Hockey player Dr Hannah Macleod was joined by Sally Hancock (Chair of Women in Sport); Claire Taylor MBE (former England cricketer) and Catherine Baker (Founder of Sport & Beyond and Independent Director of Parkour UK) for a panel discussion in The Long Room at Lord's cricket ground (never has the room seen so many women!).

The discussion threw up various interesting topics, but one of the most surprising was the importance of conflict in team sports.

Dr Hannah Macleod who plays attack in the GB Hockey team stressed just how important conflict within a team was in teaching her about accountability and learning how to listen to other players' opinions and then come to a quick decision.

Hannah Macleod during the Rio Olympics 2016

She also told an amusing anecdote of the questions she's asked most.

'First people ask me why I play GB Hockey. Then they ask which position I play, so I tell them Forward. Then inevitably, I get asked how many goals I've scored.

'And I have to say...none.'

She went on to explain that she's fine with that because her role in the team is to point and shout and ensure the rest of the team is on track, not to go for goal herself.

Her point emphasised the importance of team sports in helping to acknowledge your strengths and your role within a team.

'Inevitably, I get asked how many goals I've scored. And I have to say none, but that's OK'

It also showed the need to value diversity: teams need to be made up of people with different skills. If everyone was good at the same thing the team would be pretty rubbish.

Former England cricket player, Claire Taylor MBE spoke about finding confidence in preparation and talked about crossing 'The White Line' - the point you move from your resting self to your performing self.

All these skills and lessons can be applied off the pitch, court or arena and in your own everyday working life.

That's the real value of women who play sports.

Not the six pack, the big guns or the pert bum - although those are always an added bonus.


To find out more on Investec and Women in Sport's research into the link between playing sport and success in business, download 'Sport for Success' at investec.co.uk

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