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Women's sport in France - statistics & facts

Boston, April 19, 1967, marathon runners set off on a race that will go down in history. Among the participants was Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially compete in a 42 kilometer race. A year earlier during the same marathon, Bobbi Gibb had to disguise herself as a man in order to run.
Paris had to wait until 1979 to see women run on the cobblestones of the capital. By 2019, 27 percent of participants were women. Today, women can compete in almost every sport. However, sexism and salary inequalities are still present in the sports world.

The slow feminization of sports federations

Running and hiking was the most popular sport among French women in 2018. 38 percent said they had run or trekked at least once in the last 12 months. However, this practice was essentially independent, outside the framework of federations. The same year, only 18 percent of French sportswomen were members of a federation. In 2019, they accounted for 38 percent of sports federation licensees.
Horseback riding had more than 500,000 female members in 2019. But it was not the most feminized sport federation. Women made up 87 percent of the members of the French Ice Sports Federation. Only five federations were female-dominated in France.
The supervision and management of sports in France is also male-dominated. For example, only 16 women held the position of federation president out of 113 as of February 2020. A large majority of the state diplomas distributed for the supervision of sports in 2018 were awarded to men.

Women's soccer in the process of recognition

In 2019, 184,000 women were playing soccer every weekend in France. Girls under 20 years of age accounted for more than half of FFF (Fédération Française de Football) members. Women's soccer, although a minority, is in full expansion.
The good results of the French women's team in the 2000s and 2010 have largely contributed to the promotion of this sport among women. In 2019, the FIFA Women's World Cup was the event most awaited by the French. Olympique Lyonnais is the second driving force of women's soccer in France, with 14 wins in a row during the 2019/2020 season. Lyon's sportswomen are also very successful on the European stage. However, despite longtime attention to the issue, the average salary of female players in the first soccer division of the French championship was still 3,500 euros a month.


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