For Chloe Dalton, International Women’s Day has become one of the biggest weeks of her year.
For accountants it’s the end of financial year, for retail workers it’s the lead up to Christmas, but for Dalton, who is championing gender equality in sport, it’s the week coinciding with International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8.
Dalton is a three-code elite sportswoman, who through her experience across basketball, rugby 7s and AFLW, has witnessed first-hand the comments and unequal treatment, that she describes as frustrating.
But for Dalton, that frustration is the fuel and drive behind her playing her part in making a change and breaking the bias.
It’s not just her role and voice as an athlete that Dalton is using but also the work and establishment of her platform, the Female Athlete Project (TFAP).
“The power of sport in the Australian culture to be able to shape and change people’s attitude is huge,” she said.
“I think I’ve got a pretty incredible platform to do that and the growth that we’ve seen on TFAP has been really amazing to see the way that we can get so many more people on board.”
The 2022 IWD theme is #BreakTheBias.
Breaking the bias to create a gender-equal world - a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
“I think for me breaking the bias is all about changing that idea that women are seen as lesser than and it’s about putting things in place to give equal opportunity, equal access, equal rights, equal funding to girls and women at a grassroots level so that when they get to the professional level, where we are so often compared to the men, to actually put these things in place really early.
“I think that obviously applies in a whole range of industries, not just sport.”
For Dalton she believes that starts with visibility.
“I think that’s such a powerful tool for the next generation of young kids, for them to see these young athletes.
“Our approach [at TFAP] the whole time is to show things in a really positive light. There is many different things that we could complain about and speak out about, which we do and we’ll still call things out, but I think the biggest thing is actually just shining a really big positive light and being like hey look these athletes are achieving incredible things and deserve to be household names, they deserve to be celebrated and I think the flow on effects from that can be huge.”
Dalton’s name and the work and change she is advocating for is something that is certainly visible to those following the game.
“I’m finding after AFLW games at the moment that I’m having young people come up to me and it’s not even about me as an athlete, it’s about the work I’m doing off field.
“And I think that’s been a really huge moment for me to realise that I actually am having an impact.
“Regardless of whether I have a good day or a bad day, in terms of my playing ability, its really special to know that I’m actually doing things away from sport that continue to make an impact.
“It’s not something that I take lightly, and I hope that what I’m doing and many of my fellow female athletes and teammates are doing, continues to create change in that space and that more people continue to get on board.”
As for the future of female sport, it all comes back to that theme of equality.
“To have equal access to training, to be employed full time, to be professional athletes, to be covered equally in the media, to be spoken about, be household names and for the same investment to be put in at the grassroots levels.”
While Chloe Dalton, and many of her fellow female athletes and teammates, are advocating for this change and equality, it’s a multi-faceted approach.
“I’d love to see more sponsors getting on board and to recognise the value that women’s sport brings.
“I think one of my favourite parts of learning about new data and research that is coming out is this move away from traditional metrics of broadcast numbers because women in sport have this really unique connection with their fans and they build such a great emotional connection and there is data that shows they’re getting a much better return on investment because people then have these positive connections to the brands.
“I think another really unique thing that I’ve learnt throughout this journey and through different people in the gender equality space is the importance of men in the positions of power also coming on board.
“Obviously women are fighting this fight and continually putting in so much effort to keep closing this gap but it’s really important for men, that have traditionally held these positions of power, to lead and to be allies and to continue to bring women along with them in the sporting context and in business and a whole range of industries too.”