Read about other organisations that have changed their activities to be more inclusive and helped women and girls get active in ways that work for them.
We've created a selection of resources and toolkits to help make your activity more inclusive and welcoming for women and girls.
From our research we've come up with a set of key principles that can help you to put on activities that encourage women to get women and girls to get active on their own terms.
Ensure your space appeals to beginners and those less active.
Have someone friendly greet new participants and show them around.
Let attendees know that it’s fine to wear clothes they feel most comfortable in.
When promoting your sessions use imagery to show diversity, reflecting those living in your community.
As told by the 51%
This Girl Can and ukactive joined forces to create a practical guide to help leisure facilities make their spaces more welcoming to women and girls that covers a range of topics.See the report
Digital Marketing Hub
The Hub helps you use digital marketing more effectively to promote events and increase participation and revenue - focusing on marketing strategy and mindset, audience understanding, social media, content marketing, search and SEO, email and website.Sign up to the Hub
This Girl Can showcases Saltley Women's FC, an inclusive football club open to women from all backgrounds, created after a high demand from Muslim women in Inner City Birmingham to have more opportunities in football.
This Girl Can showcases Football Beyond Borders, a programme that aims to help girls that are passionate about football but feel disengaged academically.
This Girl Can showcases the British Mountaineering Council, empowering women to feel and stay safe, whilst having fun hillwalking.
We’ve created this handy guide to the sizes you should use when creating assets for specific channels.
Sizes in blue are the recommended and prioritised image and video sizes - in pixels - for key platforms.
Top tips for creating content
When creating content, think mobile first. Most social media users use their mobiles to view content, and generally like visually pleasing content.
Keep it simple
Don't overcomplicate it. Keep it simple, yet eye-catching.
Show your personality
TikTok is a great platform to use to jump on trends and showcases your club’s personality. Instagram Reels mimic TikTok videos, so can be used in a similar fashion on both platforms.
Think about accessibility
Remember all social media video content must be subtitled if there is dialogue to ensure it is accessible.
Case study background
This page will talk you through key points we have found to increase female participation in sport activities. All insights are based on the following case studies:
This Girl Can Swim
A programme running across multiple pools in the country, set up to offer women the chance to enjoy swimming in a fun, friendly and relaxed environment.
We ran a paid social campaign to advertise these sessions to women, to help tackle the barriers that women told us they experience in relation to swimming.
This Girl Can x British Cycling partnership
This Girl Can partnered with British Cycling in 2019 to support promotion of their BREEZE programme: free, friendly group rides for women, led by women.
A social media campaign was developed with new photography and videos which were designed to engage a less active and less confident female audience.
Couch to Fitness
Sport England funded Our Parks to produce the Couch to Fitness programme of free, online workouts during the pandemic.
This Girl Can supported Our Parks to run a paid social campaign to increase awareness and registrations to the free online workout resource.
Although not designed specifically for women, over 90% of users are currently women.
Most of the results in this page focus on click through rate, but what does that mean? We've included definitions for that, and some other useful terms, below.Read answer
- CTR (click through rate): a measure of how many people see a social post, ad, or other piece of content click through to take action.
- Impressions: a metric that counts how many times a post, organic or paid, is displayed on a social network. It counts the number of times a user might have seen the same post appear on their feed, which could be multiple times over a certain period.
- Reach: the total number of people who have been exposed to a social post, either organic or paid. It can indicate that the content appeared a user's social feed at least once.
- CPA (cost per acquisition): metric that measures the total cost of a customer completing a specific action.
- CVR (conversion rate): the number of conversions (this is defined by you e.g. downloads, sign ups etc) divided by the number of visitors. It measures how well social media efforts are working to achieve specific business goals.
Use imagery with close ups of individuals looking directly at the camera.Read answer
We found that individual close-up shots performed best during all three campaigns - looking directly at the camera also achieved a higher CTR.
One-woman shots, one looking at the camera, the other not looking at the camera.Hide answer
Consider using imagery of women in the context of the activity rather than doing the actual activity.Read answer
The British Cycling campaign also found that imagery of women in the context of the activity (e.g. near their bikes) performed better than women actually doing the activity. This was also reported in the TGC Swim campaign.
A cyclist standing beside their bike, versus the same cyclist actually riding their bike - the left image performed better.Hide answer
Keep it simple
Consider using simple messaging in your ads rather than clever slogans.Read answer
When it comes to messaging, we found simple worked best for the British Cycling campaign e.g. 'Free bike rides for women' rather than 'Grab life by the handlebars'.
A simple slogan versus one trying to be clever - the simple one wins out.Hide answer
Use reassuring messaging e.g. around building confidence and having support.Read answer
Reassuring messaging is also key for less active women.
The video that generally performed best for British Cycling focused on building confidence and the support and coaching you would get at a ride.
This is supported by findings from Couch to Fitness where, across the board, gentle and accessible language was key to good performance.
Emphasise unique aspects
Highlight unique selling points (USPs) about your programme e.g. it's free or ‘female only’.Read answer
Highlighting key words like ‘Free’ and ‘9-week programme’ positively impacted CTR in the paid social for Couch to Fitness.
The This Girl Can x British Cycling campaign and Couch to Fitness programme focus on conveying a clear message and highlighting the benefits of their offer - such as being free.Hide answer
Consider incorporating ‘me time’ within your messaging, particularly when targeting ages 34-45.Read answer
Messaging focused on getting some ‘me time’ performed well in the 35-44-year-old brackets in TGC Swim.
This was supported by strong performance of ‘me time’ related ads in Couch to Fitness as well.
Consider incorporating messaging around ‘socialising’, particularly when targeting ages 45+.
One of the video ads for TGC Swim was focused around socialising and achieved the highest engagement from women.Read answer
A still image taken from a TGC Swim ad with messaging focused on socialising - this performed well in the 45+ age bracket.Hide answer
USE FACEBOOK FOR OLDER AGE GROUPS
In terms of channel, we have typically found an older audience engage more with Facebook vs Instagram (Couch to Fitness). This can be exploited if the nature of your activity resonates more with an older audience e.g. swimming – this was supported in TGC Swim, with a higher CTR on Facebook for 45+-year-olds.
USE SCHEDULING ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM
Keep a note of best performing times of day and days of the week to refine your scheduling further. Couch to Fitness paid social campaign found that Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays performed best.
YOUTUBE SHOULD ONLY BE USED FOR BIGGER CAMPAIGN BURSTS
Ads on this platform do not achieve the same CTR as other channels. We recommend YouTube ads to supplement more direct marketing approaches as, with a healthy budget behind it, these ads can help the campaign by driving awareness. In addition, increased awareness likely has a positive knock-on effect to other marketing tools such as Google search.
TIKTOK SHOULD BE USED WITH A ‘NATIVE FIRST’ APPROACH
This means using the app and its features to create your ads and keep these in line with trends as they often perform better if executed this way. You should also consider the age of your audience when thinking about using TikTok for ads, as 42% of current users are aged 13-24 and 25% of these are women. If you have a larger budget, using TikTok influencers can increase relatability.
SNAPCHAT SHOULD NOT BE PRIORITISED FOR CAMPAIGNS
This is due to the below-average audience targeting features which are currently available.
GOOGLE SEARCH SHOULD RUN ON AN 'ALWAYS ON' BASIS
This allows for organic searches for your product. You should also consider adding seasonal messaging to boost views if appropriate, and using high-volume, low-competition key words to cover USPs of your product, or not used by competitor programmes.
Results vary by age
During the TGC Swim campaign we found marginal difference between ad formats (single image, video or carousel of images) - however there was a notable difference between format and age groups:Read answer
Video format performed best in older age groups (45+)
Carousel images (multiple images you can swipe through) performed best for 25-44 years.
For TGC Swim classes, across urban and rural areas, around 75% of attendees to a class lived within three miles of the class location.
For urban areas alone this rose to 80% - this means the vast majority of women in urban areas are not travelling further than three miles to get to their activity, highlighting the importance of efficient postcode targeting with your ads to ensure there are activities available near to those who are viewing the ads.
For rural areas, women were more willing to travel further to attend a class, with a higher percentage of attendees living up to five miles from a class location.
We found similar location-based results in the TGC x British Cycling promotion
This indicates that promoting activities happening imminently provides a stronger motivation for women than ones taking place further in the future.
For those not able to create their own photos, we have a library of free-to-use and rights-free images showing women of different sizes and ages being active and playing sport, which can be accessed at any time.
Putting it into practice
This Mum Runs found from their research that, as their volunteers were primarily busy mums, they could only commit to volunteering once per month, but they had a deep desire to help others like them.
Putting it into practice
British Cycling have a policy of uploading the new Breeze trainee's profile on their behalf to their online system (with permission) as soon as seven days after training, so they are ready to get going!
Putting it into practice
Female volunteers in one organisation rated the closed Facebook group as one of the most valuable aspects of the programme, with a much higher response than men.
The ECB’s Dream Big Desi Women programme allows women to come along to an unlimited number of training sessions. Similarly, This Mum Runs offers flexible modules of online training which the women can repeat at their own convenience.
Make women feel comfortable
This Mum Runs also has a buddy system for new volunteers allowing them to pair up with experienced volunteers. Additionally, Active Life Essex’s ‘She’s Ready’ volunteering programme starts women off with smaller levels of responsibility and gradually grows their involvement in projects to allow time for women to feel comfortable.
British Cycling’s Breeze programme has an experienced 'Breeze Champion' volunteer for each region who acts as a coordinator. They are on hand to support and mentor new trainees with both practical and administrative tasks (they are paid a small hourly rate for their time). Similarly, England Golf’s Buddy programme asked more confident volunteers to take more of a leading role in fielding questions and supporting the group (unpaid).
Putting it into practice
The YMCA Sutton Coldfield Girls Move programme and Active Life's She's Ready found that providing the women and girls with personalised, branded t-shirts and hoodies had a hugely positive effect on their engagement with the programme. Similarly, British Cycling's Breeze programme volunteers receive handwritten thank you post cards when they reach certain milestones.
Putting it into practice
The ECB’s Dream Big Desi Women training programme allowed partners and children to attend, as they saw this as crucial to encouraging their target demographic to give it a go. Also, She’s Ready run yearly feedback sessions and make changes to their programme every time as a result.
Sport England has compiled a series of questions and answers that covers queries seven separate sections related to volunteering: getting started, volunteering and the law, safeguarding and health and safety, diversity, support, planning and organising, and dealing with issues.