On behalf of the Gender Equity Society
Saoirse, Chloe, Claire, Clara, Kiera, Alice, Eva and Kamila
supervised by Mr. Lloyd and Ms. Edmunds

Why don’t many girls play sports during recess? We all know that sports are good for your mental and physical health. Exercise causes your body to release endorphins, making you feel good and relieving stress (Monroe, J. (2018) ). We are also aware that in some places, including Lausanne (Service des Sports, Ville de Lausanne (2021)), girls face certain barriers to accessing sports which have been researched and highlighted in a recent report by the Women and Equalities Committee to the UK Parliament (2024).

So how do we overcome the barriers and the social stigma to get girls on the pitch at ISL? This is the problem that the Gender Equity and Inclusion team decided to tackle.

Reflecting on the dynamics of the ISL sports community, we recognised that while the school provides a variety of opportunities, there are certain limitations. In primary school, the joy of playing sports is universal because it’s purely fun, with no external pressures. However, as students enter middle school, the introduction of tryouts and comparisons becomes daunting, often leading many to discontinue their involvement in the sports they once loved. This shift is particularly pronounced in girls’ sports, where the fear of judgement or the disappointment of not making a team during tryouts creates a less comfortable environment. Increased self-consciousness is prevalent from ages 11-15, as a consequence of puberty, not to mention the increasing stress of societal expectations and sensitivity to peer pressure.

A typical recess at ISL: Boys taking up space on the pitches, girls on the periphery.

Furthermore, the sports pitches and courts available at recess are intimidating for anyone who just wants to have fun with football or shoot a few hoops during break. According to gender equity expert Eglantine Jamet in her interview on RTS (2021), this is a common issue that we need to tackle as gendered behaviours at school stay with us into later life, so an expectation to take up space in the playground may transfer into dominating meetings in the workplace. Recognising these issues, the GEI group stepped in, creating a new space for Middle School girls to enjoy sports without any pressure.

After months of careful planning, on the 22nd of February, the Gender Equity and Inclusion service project organised a groundbreaking initiative—the Middle School girls’ sports event during lunchtime. This event showcased various sports setups and matches, with basketball and volleyball emerging as the most popular choices. All girls from years 7-9 were invited to join us in the sports halls post-lunch, and we were delighted to support a strong turnout. Our primary goal with this event was to reignite the passion for sports that some girls lose at this age.

Middle School girls having fun playing sports.

Building on the success of our first event, we’re committed to hosting a weekly gathering for Middle School girls. This consistent opportunity gives girls a designated time each week to escape the pressures of school life and have fun. Scheduled during lunchtime recess, this initiative offers a refreshing break. It allows the girls to clear their minds before returning to their studies, creating a valuable alternative to spending time in the cafeteria or library. It’s not just about sports; it’s about fostering a supportive environment where middle school girls can enjoy sports and cultivate skills such as communication, collaboration, risk-taking and leadership. Many studies have now shown the correlation between corporate success and participation in team sports at school (KPMG and the 30% Club, 2023).

Source: (KPMG and the 30% Club, 2023).

Within the ISL community, our commitment to achieving gender equity and inclusion stands as fundamental pillars in nurturing a fair and diverse society. Our initiatives go beyond the surface, challenging stereotypes, implementing inclusive policies, and cultivating a culture that appreciates the distinctive strengths that everyone brings to the community no matter where they are on the spectrum of gender. Through our dedication to promoting inclusivity, we not only bridge existing gaps but also harness the collective power of diverse talents, paving the way for a more equitable and harmonious future at ISL and beyond.

In conclusion, the journey embarked upon by the Gender Equity and Inclusion service project has not only marked a significant milestone with the successful initiation of the Middle School girls’ sports event but has also established a lasting commitment to fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment at ISL. The GEI service project remains dedicated to creating positive change, ensuring that ISL continues to evolve as a place where everyone can thrive, regardless of gender, and where the principles of equity and inclusion serve as enduring pillars of our community. We encourage everybody to get involved in sports and to make space for the girls to get on the pitch!


Monroe, J. (2018). Teens and Sports: The Exercise-Mental Health Link. [online] Newport Academy. Available at: https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/sports-and-mental-health/.

Jamet, E‌ (2021). Decrypting recreation space  [online]  RTS. Available at:  Eglantine Jamet, spécialiste des questions de genre et de diversité, décrypte les enjeux des espaces de récréation pour les enfants – Play RTS (accessed 21/3/2024) 

Service des Sports, Ville de Lausanne (2021). Constats et Actions prioritaires pour developper l’egalité femme – homme dans le sport [online] Available at: https://www.lausanne.ch/vie-pratique/sport-pour-tous/femmes-et-sport/la-demarche.html (accessed 21/3/2024) 

KPMG and 30% club (2023) Impact of sport on women in Business – Research Report, women in sport and leadership. Available at: https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/ie/pdf/2023/01/women-in-sport-and-leadership.pdf  (Accessed: 21 March 2024).