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Women, Leadership and Sports

Women and Leadership

Sports have been highlighted by the United Nations as one of the key contributors to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, namely through the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Many girls in emerging economies are increasingly viewing sports as a pathway out of their current circumstances and as an opening for future alternatives.

Sanyin Siang suggests that the combination of technology, social media and greater female participation in sports will help advance women beyond sports.  During  London 2012, billions of people from across the globe were able to access results, images, and stories from the games (the opening ceremony  itself touched upon the themes of technology and social media) . Women  were able to see other women competing and winning in every sport. These  were the first games in which every participating country sent a female delegate, including pioneering women from nations such as Libya, Brunei, Iraq, Yemen, and Qatar.

So How Can Sport Contribute to Business Leadership?

Playing sport requires mental discipline; it fosters resilience and agility, as well as promoting the social skills and team orientation required by great leaders.  By engaging in, and appreciating sports, women are more likely to experience greater social inclusion in the workplace.

A 2002 Oppenheimer Funds Study further found that 82% of female business executives played organized sports after elementary school, 20% more than the general population. The correlation between participation in sports and success among women can be seen among high-profile leaders:

MD for IMF Christine Lagarde competed in synchronized swimming

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi played cricket

Kraft Foods CEO Irene Rosenfeld engaged in 4 varsity sports in high school and basketball in college

HP  CEO Meg Whitman playing lacrosse and squash


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