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Reasons for underrepresentation of female leaders and figureheads in Finland according to male sport executives
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Scarcity of female leaders in sport organizations has been recognized as a worldwide dilemma. This research focuses on its prevalence specifically in Finland. Although women in Finland in general are quite fortunate to be able to enjoy a relatively high level of equality in most aspects of life, the blatant underrepresentation of female leaders and figureheads particularly in sports is somewhat mysterious and is worth investigating further. In the last two decades, more women have been appointed to sport leadership positions in Finland, but the highest and most influential positions are still occupied mainly by male. Qualitative data was used as a research method and collected in a form of semi-structured interviews. The sample comprised of seven influential men and one female who have years of experience working in key leadership positions in the field of sport. The goal was to gain an understanding of how men sports executives perceive women as potential sports leaders and to find out their level of willingness to welcome more women into the industry. The study aimed to identify the main reasons for the slow progress of women gaining a stronger foothold in the top managerial positions in sports in Finland. Most previous studies have examined the topic from the female point of view. Hence, this study approached the theme mainly from a male standpoint to fill in the gap in the literature. The results strongly indicate that men see women just as capable sports leaders as their counterparts, but they believe women’s journey all the way to the top is decelerated or entirely precluded by various foreseeable barriers. Family-related issues were named most often as the biggest reason for women’s scarcity in the top-level positions, but nearly as often the phenomenon was explained by the reasons related to old structures and prolonged male hegemony. Women seem to also be reluctant to actively apply for the sport leadership positions which is believed to be caused by the lack of courage and confidence, but also because women are believed to value other aspects of life, such as parenting, higher than sports per se. Women are thus lacking the adequate level of passion which is one of the most essential driving forces in sports management. My suggestion for future research would be to examine the level of passion of women in the middle management to find out whether the previous claim holds true. Furthermore, my observations during the research left me wondering if the high level of education within organization could explain the unprejudiced and positive attitude towards gender neutrality and female leaders. Therefore, as my other suggestion for future research is to examine the level of education in different sport organizations and conduct a comparative analysis of how it relates to number of female executives in those particular organizations. ...
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