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More Aussie women getting sporty

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Aust), July 2009-June 2010, n= 10,830; July 2013- June 2014 (n=9,502). Thumbnail image: copyright David Van Oost (Flickr Creative Commons)

From Sally Pearson to Torah Bright, Mo’onia Gerrard to Stephanie Gilmore, Anna Meares and Sam Stosur – Australia’s current crop of crack sportswomen is illustrious and inspiring. Yet the sporting industry (and associated media coverage) remains largely male dominated, a fact that the upcoming Asia Pacific World Sport and Women Conference (27-28 October) is keen to rectify. And with female participation in sport on the rise, their timing couldn’t be better…

According to the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research, more Aussie women are participating in sports as diverse as cycling, swimming, yoga, jogging, aerobics and tennis than they were just a few years ago.

Jogging and cycling have seen particularly healthy growth among female participants: in the 12 months to June 2014, 22% of Australian women 14+ jogged regularly or occasionally, a sizeable increase on the 15% who were jogging back in June 2010. Over the same period, cycling participation rose from 11% to 16%.

Meanwhile, the proportion of women participating in yoga shot up by more than 50%, from 9.4% to 14.4% between 2010 and 2014.

Sports participation by Australian women: 2010 vs 2014


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Aust), July 2009-June 2010, n= 10,830; July 2013- June 2014 (n=9,502).

A young woman’s game?

However, once we take a closer look at female sports participation, it becomes apparent that younger women are much more likely to take part in the majority of sports.

Teenagers under 18 are more likely than any other age group to engage in cycling (53% more likely than the average Aussie woman), gymnastics (491% more likely), jogging (114% more likely), marathons (181% more likely), athletics/track and field (511% more likely), basketball (505% more likely), Australian Rules football (370% more likely) and tennis (112% more likely) — and that’s just to name a few. Phew!

Of course, some sports are simply too strenuous or high-impact for more mature bones, and the 50+ demographic tends to be less likely than younger age groups to participate in most sports – with a couple of unsurprising exceptions. Women aged between 50 and 64 are more likely than those of any other age to play golf and walk for exercise, while the 65+ bracket is the most likely to play lawn bowls.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Since the glory days of Dawn Fraser and Betty Cuthbert, Australia’s sportswomen have been a force to reckon with, and today’s champions are continuing that tradition. And with increased female participation across the country, our sporting future is looking bright.

“The fact that girls under 18 are so much more likely than the average Australian woman to take part in such a wide range of sports is helped no doubt by compulsory school Phys. Ed. classes. Furthermore, most teenage girls are not prone to age-related aches and pains, and can participate in physically-taxing sports like gymnastics and football without paying such a steep price afterwards!

“This is not to say that Aussie women slack off once they hit adulthood – far from it. Until the age of 50, they tend to be very physically active, with certain sports currently enjoying surges in popularity: yoga for 18-24 year-olds, jogging for 25-34 year-olds and cycling for the 35-49 year-olds, for example.

“Even the over 50s, although well down on average in terms of overall sports participation, are showing higher participation rates in some sports: since 2010, the proportion of 50-64 year-olds swimming has grown from 27% to 38%, while that of women aged 65 or older hiking/bushwalking has doubled from 6% to 12%.”

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Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%