07 September 2021

Team GB chef de mission, Mark England, declared that '2021 is truly the year of the female Olympian', after the British team took more female than male athletes to the Tokyo Olympic Games. The trend continued as ParalympicsGB took the highest ever percentage of female athletes to a Paralympic Games. 

The 100 female athletes selected, including University of East London (UEL) student Vanessa Wallace (who competed in the women’s F34 shot put), made up 44 per cent of the squad at the Tokyo Paralympics. This was a 4 per cent increase compared to the Rio 2016 Paralympics and is a step in the right direction for gender equality in elite level sport. 

The University of East London has long been a champion for gender equality, encouraging women and people from a BAME background to get into sport.  

The University was ranked second in the UK for gender equality by the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking 2020, and closely collaborates with several members of the newly formed Women’s Elite Sport Partnership involving West Ham United, London Pulse Netball Club, basketball outfits Essex Rebels, the London Lions and cricket team, Sunrisers. 

In 2019/20, 40 per cent of students attending club sport or Move East London sessions were female, with 58 per cent of all users being from a BAME background. At the elite level, in the last academic year, 62 out of 144 of UEL's high performance sport scholars were female.

We are proud that our work in driving equality is having an impact at an elite sporting level. Current female athletes like Vanessa Wallace, as well as past stars and UEL alumni like judo’s Gemma Gibbons and wheelchair basketball player Anne Wild, are great examples of what can be achieved if the right opportunities and environments are provided to women and girls with a passion for sport,"

Professor Amanda Broderick, UEL vice-chancellor and president, said.

Dr Ian Pickup,  pro vice-chancellor for education and experience, said, "Our sport scholars are not only getting the conditions and support to succeed in their sporting career, but we are also giving them the academic, entrepreneurial and digital skills they need to excel in their life away from sport. That is why we were so delighted to become one of the first universities to achieve dual career accreditation through Sport England‘s Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS). 

Many of our past female athletes have gone into careers such as occupational therapy and coaching, which means there are now more female voices and professionals across the sector. This will only help to encourage more women and girls to pursue a career in sport."

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