The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #EmbracingEquity. So we ask: How equitable is golf, really?
International Women’s Day is all about celebrating the achievements of women and taking action to drive gender parity. And this year’s theme is #EmbracingEquity: forging a world that's diverse, equitable and inclusive, where difference is valued and celebrated.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for celebrating women and driving equality – that goes without saying.
But I’ll be totally honest: Sometimes I think the messaging behind any of these sort of days misses the mark (there, I said it).
However … equity is a value I am totally on board with.
Because, after all, equality might be what we want as women, but equity is what we really need to achieve it.
Equity recognises that we don’t all start from the same place. And equal opportunities aren’t always enough. We need genuine, equitable actions for true inclusion.
It’s about adjusting imbalances and barriers, whether they’re intentional or not.
So how equitable is golf, really?
The short answer is that golf is one of the most equitable sports there is.
On paper anyway.
The handicap system and different tee positions alone are obvious examples of equity within the game. Let alone dedicated women’s participation programmes and initiatives.
But the issue is that a lot of the things that make golf equitable are often undermined or not taken seriously.
I’d be a rich woman if I had even a penny for every time a man suggested my handicap was invalid because I played off the reds. As if I could only possibly be equal to a male golfer if I played off the same tees as him.
And that’s the crux of it: Golf is foundationally equitable. But it won’t be equal until everyone starts to respect the measures that are in place.
Equality means everyone is given the same resources or opportunities. Whereas equity considers everyone’s differences and allocates resources and opportunities to reach an equal outcome.
Is focusing on equity the future of women’s golf?
As an industry, I really think we have an opportunity to drive women’s participation in golf by focusing more on equity.
That means really taking the time to understand the different requirements of women and ensuring the correct opportunities are in place.
That goes beyond just tee placement or handicap allowances and thinking about things like time and child care. Women are generally the main caregivers in most households. And that brings with it additional barriers to participation in golf.
Looking at participation through the lens of equity could go a long way to transforming the future of the women’s game.
What do you think? Join in the conversation on social media using #EmbracingEquity.