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Australia’s most gender balanced sports and activities

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2014- March 2015, sample n = 51,882 Australians 14+

Breaking news: women and men sometimes enjoy doing different things—but the latest research from Roy Morgan reveals Australia’s 10 most gender-neutral sports and activities, with almost equal proportions of female and male participants.

Some sports are still overwhelmingly played by one sex more than the other: 85% of regular or occasional netballers are women; 89% of cricketers are men. But in research conducted during the year to March 2015, 10 sports or activities have participant ratios within 4% points of the female:male population norm of 50.7%:49.3%.

Boxing, it seems, is even a little bit ladylike, scraping onto the list with a decidedly female participation skew of 54% women and 46% men. Field Hockey skews the other way (47%:53%) but is by far the most gender balanced team sport—the only one to make the list.

Top 10 most gender-neutral (and two most biased) sports or activities

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2014- March 2015, sample n = 51,882 Australians 14+

Ten Pin Bowling comes closest to gender neutrality with a 50:50 gender split among participants (which in fact makes it ever so slightly manly compared with the population norm). The other most well-balanced sports or activities are similarly recreational and individual: Hiking or Bushwalking, Rock climbing or Abseiling, Snorkelling or Skin Diving and Gym or Weight Training all also have almost equal numbers of women and men participating. 

Slightly more women regularly or occasionally participate in Marathons or Running, while slightly more men are Jogging or doing Triathlons.

Of course, there are still plenty of (fairly predictable) sports and activities with a clear gender bias: from the more womanly Dancing, Aerobics, Yoga, Horse-riding and Gymnastics to the more macho Hunting or Game Shooting, Motor Racing, Rugby Union, Golf and Australian Rules Football.

However other sports and activities are perhaps less balanced that one might expect. Swimming is just outside the Top 10 with a female skew of 56%:44%, while men make up a strong majority of those participating in Cycling (43%:57%), Tennis (41%:59%), Sailing (37%:63%), Surfing (36%:64%), Lawn Bowls (34%:66%) and Squash (25%: 75%). 

Hugh Amoyal, Deputy CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Roy Morgan’s ongoing, nationwide research shows that many sports and activities have almost equal numbers of Australian men and women participating. Clearly, these gender balanced pursuits tend to be individual and recreational rather than team-based and institutionalised, suggesting there are still barriers to women accessing team sports.

“Clubs, sponsors, training and equipment providers, and Government agencies need to remember that even the most gender-imbalanced sports include minorities worthy of attention, whether the 136,000 women who play cricket or the 101,000 men who play netball.”

For comments or more information about Roy Morgan Research’s sports data, please contact:

Vaishali Nagaratnam
Telephone: +61 (3) 9224 5309

About Roy Morgan

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%