Hook, Line and Sinker - How VRFish Achieved Gender Equality on their Board
How did the idea of 50% women on your board (above the mandated 40% requirement) come into play?
It was an intentional organisational change to commit to 50% women on our Board to reflect state government policy and encourage more women in our sector to take on leadership roles within the recreational fishing community (read more about Balance the Board here).
To implement this organisational transformation within VRFish, it required a major change to our constitution and support from at least 75% of our membership. There were five determinations required to successfully implement the change, which received an overwhelming 91% support. Thus, we were able to implement the changes sooner than expected, as we had initially planned for the changes to come into effect by 2023.
By encouraging women to get into leadership positions at VRFish, we believe this will filter through to our member organisations.
When did you achieve the 50% benchmark?
We achieved the 50% benchmark in February 2022. Rita Caulfield, Skye Kirne and Jingjing Nan joined the Board in 2021 and Lydia Cahill in 2022. Prior to 2021, there was one woman on the VRFish Board.
Many people are under the assumption that fishing is a male-dominated sport - is this true?
While the general demographic of recreational fishers is male, it’s estimated that between 20% and 30% of recreational fishers are female.
Leaders within the recreational fishing sector are no longer predominately male and the recreational fishing sector has become more inclusive. There is clearly growth within the sector where more women are taking on leadership roles, for example the Women in Recreational Fishing (WIRF) network. This network is in the form of a Facebook group, which currently has over 3,500 members. The WIRF Network was created to establish an interactive space for women and girls of all ages to share their experiences, passion and knowledge of recreational fishing, and is a safe space to discuss all things fishing with like-minded women. To join this group, click here.
What advice do you have for other organisations looking to get 50% (or more!) women on their boards?
Have a recruitment policy for achieving gender balance at the Board level, and actively recruit candidates with the leadership skills your organisation needs - then promote the gender diverse board. We have found there are more people, especially women, who are encouraged to apply for a Board position once they are aware the Board is gender diverse and inclusive.
Do you have a story to share with us that promotes a gender equal sport sector? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured across our social media and on our website.
Monday 23 May, 2022