Manchester High School for Girls’ GCSE and A-level Sport students learnt about the issues women face in football as Chief Communications Officer of Manchester City Football Club, Vicky Kloss, came to talk at her former school.
Prior to her career in football, Vicky was already an avid fan of the sport and shared a memory from her time at MHSG: “I used to disappear on my free periods to go watch City’s first team train at their former ground at Platt Fields. I’m pretty sure I did revision too, but I do remember spending a lot of time peering through the fence, completely fascinated by the game.”
She talked about her unusual journey into football, which include a degree from Cambridge in Latin and French, and 10 years in the police force. However, her main focus was to talk about the challenges and opportunities faced by women in the sport. She advised students “Not to be afraid to speak up, and to tackle any discrimination they may face with maturity and determination”.
Speaking about the workplace survey conducted by Women in Football (WiF) last year, Vicky described how shocked she was by the results: “The survey demonstrates how discrimination, inequality and sexual harassment in women’s football absolutely exists. The number of women who report being victims of sexual harassment had doubled to 15 percent; some women were still banned from areas at work preventing them from doing their job properly, and almost half say they have experienced sexism in the workplace.”
‘For any young female hoping to pursue a career in any area of the game, my advice would be to really push the boundaries.’
She reminded students of some of the recent high profile sexism cases in football, including the 2011 sacking of Sky Sports commentators, Richard Keys and Andy Gray, but also assured them that times were changing: “The FA and other football and sporting authorities are committed to increasing participation at all levels of the game, and we are also seeing women’s football academies being opened across the country. The quality of coaches and players are improving which, in turn, continues to raise the standard of the women’s game, which then generates better TV deals and sponsorships. This results in the inevitable growth of women’s football and boosts the income of the teams and players. There are also increasing opportunities for women in an array of jobs across the world of football, often in traditionally male areas, such as sports medicine, physiotherapy and grounds maintenance. Women are also adopting executive positions away from the football pitch in larger numbers than ever before.”
She concluded: “So it is not all doom and gloom for women in football; I believe there could even be a female manager in the men’s game in the not so distant future. For any young female hoping to pursue a career in any area of the game, my advice would be to really push the boundaries, have a drive and passion for the sport and show you have something about you that makes you different.”