Specialists from the University take part in an Erasmus+ European project to minimise the gender gap in sports

  • Press Office
  • March 4th, 2021
Yelko Rodríguez, Lirios Dueñas, José Casaña.

Three professors from the faculties of Physiotherapy and Pharmacy of the University of Valencia take part in a European project to minimise the gender gap in sports. The project is called WISE (Women’s Involvement in Steady Exercise) and it aims to create and spread a specific exercise programme for girls and women between the ages of 15 and 24.

The initiative arises from the reported gender gap in Europe: men exercise, practice sport or carry out other physical activities more than women. This inequality is especially prominent in the 15-24 age group, where young men tend to exercise or practice sport regularly at a significantly higher rate than young women.

The difference between men and women is more evident in the younger age groups: only 15% of men between 15-24 never exercise or practice sport, compared to 33% of women in the same age range. The European trend is also found in Spain, according to the Survey of Sporting Habits in Spain, an official statistic carried out every five years by the Ministry of Culture and Sport and the National Sports Council.

With regard to participation in Spanish Championships during school and university age, there are significant differences by sex between the two stages. The most notable disparities are found in the data for university championships, with 2,172 male athletes (56.4%) and 1,681 (43.6%) female athletes.

With regard to the number of sports modalities, it is more common among women to practise only one modality. More specifically, 26.4% of female athletes only practice one sport, compared to an estimated 16.6% of male athletes. While men are much more likely to practice football, basketball, tennis, cycling or paddle tennis, women take part at much higher rates in any type of gymnastics or swimming.

Sex differences are also notable in terms of the number of federation licences. Men account for 77% of sporting licences and women for 23%. In terms of high-level athletes, the breakdown by sex shows that out of 3,114 athletes, 62.8% are men and 1,848, 37.2%, are women.

The project will engage 300 young women in regular physical activity through an innovative programme shared across Europe that includes bioimpedance analysis, nutrition advice and technological devices. Among the measures to be implemented for the successful achievement of the objectives are the development of an app for smartphones, WhatsApp groups with social activities to boost motivation, keeping an activity journal, as well as the exercise programme and regular contact with trainers and nutritionists.

The programme will enable health and sports professionals and managers of sports facilities to identify the best sports and physical activities to engage young women in regular exercise and prevent them from quitting exercise in different EU countries.

WISE will last 30 months (January 2021-June 2023) and is co-financed by Erasmus+ Sport of the European Union. The project funding is 398,470 euros.

The members of the University of Valencia involved in this European project are Lirios Dueñas, professor of the Department of Physiotherapy (Faculty of Physiotherapy), Yelko Rodríguez, professor of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Food Sciences, Toxicology and Forensic Medicine (Faculty of Pharmacy), and José Casaña, professor of the Department of Physiotherapy (Faculty of Physiotherapy).

On January 21, the Women’s Involvement in Steady Exercise (WISE) consortium held their first online meeting to begin the project and establish future actions for its successful implementation. During the initial meeting, the WISE consortium took the first step to achieve their goals by electing the steering committee and the scientific committee. The steering and scientific committees will support the consortium by defining common strategies and implementing the project activities, as well as advising and assessing the WISE project and its programme.

As part of the project planning, a presentation day will be held in Valencia in September of 2021 to present the objectives and activities, as well as to spread a review of good practices and proposed guidelines. During this day the project members will also present the subsequent pilot actions.

The initiative is coordinated by the European Platform for Sport Innovation-EPSI (Belgium). Other partners, besides the University of Valencia, include the University Union-Nikola Tesla, Faculty of Sport-FZS (Serbia), European Culture and Sport Organization-ECOS (Italy), Kinetic Analysis-KA (The Netherlands), and SPORTLAB S.S.D.A.R.L.-SPORTLAB (Italy).




Survey of Sporting Habits in Spain 2015. Ministry of Culture and Sport. http://www.culturaydeporte.gob.es/servicios-al-ciudadano/estadisticas/deportes/encuesta-habitos-deportivos-en-espana.html

Directory of sports statistics. 2019. Ministry of Culture and Sport. https://sede.educacion.gob.es/publiventa/anuario-de-estadisticas-deportivas-2019/deporte-sociedad-estadisticas/21590C

Caption: Yelko Rodríguez, Lirios Dueñas, José Casaña.