As few as one in five sports scholarships at Irish third level colleges are being awarded to women.
New figures show that male students are receiving the majority of sports scholarship programmes at third level institutions throughout Ireland for GAA and Rugby. Universities included in the research include Dublin Institute of Technology, Trinity College Dublin, Maynooth University and National University of Ireland Galway.
A significant discrepancy in the awarding of sports scholarships to female rugby players has emerged in the new figures. NUIM offered 28 scholarships to male rugby players this year and TCD offered 30 last year. However, in both cases no female rugby player received a scholarship.
Less blatant divides appeared in Dublin City University, University of Limerick, University College Dublin and Waterford Institute of Technology, but males continue to receive the majority of the sports scholarships.
According to several universities, scholarships are independently awarded based on each sporting body’s specific criteria, including performance levels and available resources in male and female clubs.
Concerns have begun to arise among women’s sports advocates and student sport representatives.
The main concerns include a systematic funding imbalance for sporting women at third level, high drop-out rates among teenage females in sports and a lack of the promotion of available scholarships to high performance female atheletes.
Emer Ní Éafa, a Dublin Senior Ladies Footballer and DCU student said she wasn’t surprised about the findings, “It’s difficult, I didn’t even get an interview for a sports scholarship the first year I applied, but I am aware that you have to be playing at the very top level to get one,”
“From a young age, I’ve learned that if it’s a choice between a boy and a girl that tick all of the same boxes and have the same goals, the boy is going to get it more often. It’s not fair but it’s something you have to deal with as an athlete,” she said.
Student Sport Ireland (SSI), the governing body of third level sport, said the number of sports scholarships given out to students seem to reflect the gap in participation levels of females compared to males.