Equality and Sport Research


sportscotland commissioned Counsel Ltd. to conduct this research in March 2020.

We commissioned this research to help us to update, refresh and grow our equality evidence.  We wanted to understand how work is progressing in this area across the sector and ask what could help us all take action to reduce inequalities.

Equality and Sport Research 2020


sportscotland and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published a report into equality in Scottish sport. The report looks at who currently participates in sport, the barriers to participation, and suggests potential solutions.

The ‘Equality and Sport Research’ report was commissioned and managed by sportscotland, funded by the EHRC, supported by the Scottish Government, and conducted by Research Scotland. This is a resource for people to learn about equality which aims to help organisations across the sport sector drive improvement.

The report found that awareness of equalities in the sporting sector has significantly increased in recent years and also summarises the key challenges facing the sector. Women, people with disabilities, Pakistani adults, and people of Muslim faith are all less likely to take part in sport, while less information was available about sport and sexual orientation, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, and marriage and civil partnerships.

It also identified a number of key themes which can affect participation: negative experiences of PE, concerns about self-esteem and body confidence, the attitudes of others and the influence of family and peers, as well as issues relating to facilities, opportunities, and pathways.

Learning notes

A series of learning notes has been developed based on findings from the research.  This research involved a review of relevant literature, surveys and discussion groups with people working in the sporting system in Scotland, and discussions with people with protected characteristics. 

Full document - Learning notes

Sport and equality evidence database

Research Scotland created a database of existing evidence around sport and equality, through searches of literature through IDOX; internet searches to identify evidence reviews or good practice; and gathering information from sportscotland, Scottish Government and other key partner organisations.  Note: this database was created in 2015.   

Date published: 29 March 2023
Date updated: 22 November 2023


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