Gender stereotypes in sports

Posted by iChild, November 13, 2019 7:06 PM

Survey reveals over half of UK parents are concerned about their child’s activities

By Sarah McGregor of Skatehut

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Do the gender stereotypes attached to certain hobbies affect whether we’d let our children take part in them?

Extreme sports retailer SkateHut surveyed 2,000 UK parents of children aged 16 and under to discover what effect gender stereotypes have on our children’s hobbies.  

The survey revealed that more than half DO worry about the gender suitability of their child’s activity.

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10 most popular activities for boys and girls  

Our worries could be stopping children doing the sports they want. When parents were asked which hobbies they’d encourage, typically female sports were chosen for girls, while male-oriented sports were chosen for boys.

While nearly one third of parents would pick cricket for a boy, just 4% would encourage a girl to play.

However, some activities, notably football, are shaking off the stereotype to prove popular for both sexes.

The table below compares the top 10 most popular sports for girls vs. boys:



Dads are more likely to encourage girls to do ‘boys’ activities

Mums and dads have different opinions when it comes to activity choices for children.  

In fact, the survey showed football was the most popular activity for girls chosen by dads, with nearly half (49%) picking it. Meanwhile, mums thought swimming, netball, ice skating and gymnastics were all more appropriate for girls.

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Extreme sports show the strongest gender stereotypes

Extreme sports including BMX and skateboarding were heavily favoured for boys.

More than a quarter of parents would encourage boys to BMX, while just 8% of parents would encourage girls to participate.  

And when it comes to skateboarding, parents were more than three times as likely to choose it for a boy than a girl.

One person bucking that trend is 10-year old Roxana Howlett. Roxana is a competitive skateboarder, and her mum, Emma, explains:

“Skateboarding is what makes Roxana truly happy and she has met some wonderful friends through it. Many of my friends’ daughters do traditional 'girls sports' and it’s refreshing to have a daughter who wants to step away from the norm and try something alternative.” 

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Breaking the bias

Skatehut hope to see children’s activities lose their gender stereotypes, and with sports like BMX and Skateboarding making their Olympic debut next year, we could see more girls inspired to take part.

Founder, Mark Johansen-Berg had this to say:

"It’s inescapable that certain activities are thought of as more of a girls' or boys' hobby. Although, we were pleased to see typically boy’s activities like football are becoming popular with girls too. We hope more children will be encouraged to try any activity they’re interested in and more sports follow football’s suit in breaking the bias."

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For more information on gender stereotypes in sport, visit


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