Irish people are more than twice as likely to attend or watch a women’s sports event as their peers in the UK, according to a new survey.
More than only one in three (36%) adults who responded to new research by Liberty Insurance said they have attended or watched a women’s sports event in the past 12 months, compared to just 17% in the UK.
Men's sport remains more popular in both countries however, with three quarters (75%) of Irish adults and 49% of UK adults saying that they attended or watched a major men’s sporting event in that time.
The research was carried out by RED C Research among more than 1,000 adults in Ireland and 2,000 adults in the UK.
The survey also revealed that Irish men are more likely than women to watch or attend female sports events in both Ireland and the UK. Some 43% of Irish men have attended or watched a major women’s sports event in the last 12 months, versus 30% of females. In the UK, 25% of males and 10% of females have attended or watched equivalent sports events.
Older men are the most likely to follow female sport. Over half (57%) of all men over 55 in Ireland have watched or attended a women’s sporting event versus just 30% of females in the same age bracket.
A ‘general lack of interest’ is the most frequently cited reason for a lack of engagement in women’s sport. Some 47% of Irish people and 55% of people in the UK cited this as their primary reason for not attending or watching women’s sport.
Other barriers to engagement in Ireland included a lack of knowledge (16%), lack of time (15%), insufficient buzz or excitement (12%), and not growing up with women’s sport (16%).
The survey was undertaken by Liberty Insurance ahead of the launch of ‘Women in Sport, The Next Chapter’ in Croke Park later today.
As part of the event, RTÉ broadcaster Joanne Cantwell will host a panel discussion featuring author of ‘Eat Sweat Play’, Anna Kessel MBE; Europe’s first professional female referee Joy Neville; former Irish rugby international and media pundit Fiona Coghlan; and Camogie All-Star Mags D’Arcy.
Commenting ahead of the event, Deirdre Ashe, Director of Customer & Markets, Liberty Insurance, said: "We’re delighted to be sharing these results today and shining a light on the progress being made in the area of women in sport in Ireland.
"2017 represented an important year for women’s sport and the success of Ireland’s hosting of the Women’s Rugby World Cup, Joy Neville being awarded World Rugby referee of the year and record-breaking attendances at the All Ireland Ladies Football Final proved to be particular highlights.
"However, our research suggests more needs to be done to generate a broader awareness of women’s sport, its heroes, rivalries, and narratives. This has to start at an early age. If children are not exposed to female sport, they are highly unlikely to engage with it as adults."
- Digital desk