Written by Ioanna Samartzi*
The case of gender equality in Greece is a complex one. In top job positions in the country, female participation generally is a subject that has been rather neglected (Papageorgiou, 2006). Greece seems to lack female leadership representation, not only in sports, but widely.
However, the goal of the article is to examine how many women have a leadership position in National Sports Federations in Greece.
Greek Women in Management Positions
I believe that it is crucial to examine the role of Greek female leaders in companies and politics more detailed in order to understand the need for gender equality in Greece. This will also help to better analyze female presence in sport federations.
In 2015, Grant Thornton published a survey about female leadership in companies. The survey found that the percentage of Greek women in top management positions was 27%. However, 39% of the respondents admitted that they could not climb the corporate ladder as rapidly as their male coworkers, because of unequal treatment based on gender (Chrysopoulos, 2015).
In 2019, Eurostat published a survey around the exact same topic in all European Union countries. The results found that only one in three managers in the EU are women. Specifically for Greece, the percentage of female managers was 32%.
In 2021, the statistics seem to ameliorate. In its annual survey, Grant Thornton cited that the percentage of women in senior management positions recorded a “jump” by nine percentage points (33%).
Synchronously, the percentage of companies that did not employ any women in a senior management position fell to 13%.
Moreover, giving a simple example of gender representation in political decision-making locally, 10,6% were women candidates for the position of Mayor in local elections in 2004, all over the countries. Finally, only 4.6 % of women were elected to the position of Mayor in 2004 (Meier et al, 2004). This is definitely a huge gap.
Sport Industry in Greece
It is true that the Greek sports federation presents a particular legal status, since it is not only an administrative body, but also an obedient and a disciplinary one. Generally, the sport industry in Greece constitutes a relatively small segment of the overall economy. According to the European study on sport as an economic activity (European Commission, Directorate-General Education and Culture, 2012), the share of sport-related value added for Greece was 1% for the narrow definition of sport, 1.44% for the broad definition of sport, and 0.36% for the statistical definition of sport. Those numbers were below the EU average (1.13% and 1.76% for narrow and broad definition) (Giannoulakis et al, 2017).
Sport Industry Law in Greece
The sports federation, in accordance with the Greek law, is the highest form of organization of sports clubs practicing the same sports, or being active in the same sector of sports activity. It serves the purpose of the development of a sport, or of a sports sector in a specific country on a national level (Panagiotopoulos, 2019).
Elections in Greek Sports Federations
On 1 of December 2020, Lefteris Avgenakis, Greek Deputy Minister of Sports, announced the elections in all Greek sport federations. Furthermore, he mentioned the need for significant renewal in the vast majority of new administrations. The voting progress was scheduled to be without physical presence due to Covid-19 .
Notably, the day after the elections were over, the outstanding number of 80% of presidents had been changed. It is also important to note that two sport federations were not taken into account because the elections have not happened yet.
Female Members of the Boards before Elections
It is vital for the article to evaluate the percentages of women in the boards of Greek sport federations before the elections of 2021.
The results before the elections showed that, among all 378 members of 34 Sport Federations, only 17,2% were women. Sadly, in leadership positions the results were most discouraging. Only two presidents were females, which means that one female president appears every 17 male presidents. Similarly, only two women were in charge for the position of vice president.
It is also essential to pinpoint that only one federation encompassed an equal number of female and male members. Also, two federation boards included more female members than men, but the majority, numerically 31 federations, enclosed more men members.
By examining the same 34 National Sport Federations in Greece after the elections, we found that:
Before the elections in the Greek Sports Federations, the number of female members was 65, which counts for 17,2% of all members. After the elections, the number increased to 80, now representing 22,2% of all members.
It is also noticeable that after the elections, the number of Female Presidents was increased by 11, equally to 8%. For the first time in Greek Sport history, the Hellenic Athletics Federation, the oldest Sport Federation in Greece which was founded in 1897, has its first female president. The first female president in 124 years!
Also, female representation in the position of vice-president increased by 8,9% and the equal number of both female and male members was increased too, by 5,9 %. Paradoxically, the day after the completion of elections, none of the federations enclosed more female members than male members.
Conclusion / Opinion
Greece just made some small steps in encouraging female leadership in National Sport Federations, but we have a long way yet to achieve our goal for gender equality. The rise of female leaders must give us hope, and more strength, to claim our rights in social justice. Moreover, I believe that the Greek government must encourage more women to undertake leadership positions, by giving them more opportunities to empower their representation. As I mentioned above, the first steps just took place, so let’s hope for a more equal future in national sport federations, in Greece and everywhere in the world.
* Ioanna Samartzi is a PhD Candidate at the University of Peloponnese in Greece. Her research focuses on “the application of the sustainability principles in sport and sport-related tourism forms”. She holds a Bsc in Sports Management from the University of Peloponnese and a Msc in Strategic Tourism from the Aegean University.