THE UK minister for sport and equality has suggested that women should be offered “feminine” sports in a bid to narrow the gender gap in participation.
Helen Grant said women should be given “what they want” and not forced to take part in football or swimming, adding that they can “look radiant” during activities like cheerleading and roller-skating.
She made the comments in an interview about how to increase the number of women taking part in sport, highlighting that 1.8 million more men than women play sport regularly.
She said: “There are some wonderful sports which you can perform to a very high level and [in which] I think those participating look absolutely radiant and very feminine such as ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading and even roller-skating.
“Whether it’s a Zumba class or a game of rounders after they’ve dropped the kids off. That’s the approach we need to take – what works for them.”
Her comments have been criticised by anti-sexism campaigners as “discouraging” at a time when female Olympians are leading the glory for Britain at the Sochi games.
Lizzy Yarnold won the country’s first gold medal at the Winter Olympics in the skeleton while Jenny Jones took bronze in snowboard slopestyle, as did the female curling team.
Founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, Laura Bates, said: “With our great athletes performing fantastically at the Olympics, we still see media outlets focusing on [their] looks and femininity, which [Ms Grant’s] comments seem to do too.”