A SHARP Center Report “Women in the Olympic and Paralympic Games” Reveals Equity Gaps in Participation, Leadership Opportunities for Women.


“The SHARP Center findings demonstrate both the successes and shortfalls of the IOC’s gender equity thresholds.”

The Report also uncovers startling gender inequalities in athletic participation by men and women. Although competing in the same number of Olympic sports as their male counterparts, women competed in 131 events (43.4 percent, up from 42 percent in 2008), while men competed in 163 events (54 percent, down slightly from 54.6 percent in 2008). Additionally, there were eight mixed events (accounting for three percent), putting women in a total of 139 events (46 percent) and men in 171 events (56 percent) of the 302 events offered at the 2012 Games.

Select Key Findings:

  • Women still have not exceeded 45 percent of the total participants in the Olympic Games and 36 percent in the Paralympic Games.
  • Female athletes often have fewer events per sport resulting in fewer medal opportunities. Female athletes also have fewer slots per event leading to fewer participation opportunities overall.

Select Key Recommendations:

  • Set 50 percent equity goals for participation by the 2016 Games.