International Women’s Day – Christie Smillie

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender-balance.

To celebrate the day, as well as raise awareness of the importance of gender-balance and the #BetterforBalance campaign, we will be talking to a number of women from the club and finding out what the day means for them, how korfball can help gender-balance, hearing their experiences and seeing if there are any lessons we can take forward.


ChristieChristie is pictured here at the Processions Walk in June 2018, which celebrated 100 years of women being able to vote where hundreds of women and girls walked around Edinburgh in suffragette colours as a ‘mass participation artwork’.

Christie is studying geology at Edinburgh University, where she is also playing korfball and coaching the beginner teams. Alongside this, Christie is also the assistant coach at Edinburgh City Korfball Club where she has made a drastic impact on the club, with members being incredibly grateful for her help and guidance.


What does International Women’s Day and the #BalanceforBetter campaign mean to you?

International Women’s Day highlights achievements of women around the world and promotes equality.

Everyone receives the same treatment, chances and respect as their peers. It means that we’re actively campaigning and developing as a society into a world where people can expect fair and equal treatment irrespective of their sex or gender.

Just because we are women should not mean that we experience discrimination.


What are your experiences of gender-balance in your everyday life?

Gender balance is how we find a way to have equal representation as a man or a woman across every aspect of society.

I’ve experienced a range of negative balances where I have felt a lack of respect, intimidated, inferior and unimportant by a masculinity fuelled situation.

From being told I’m bossy for having an opinion; being told that I run like a girl; that I’m wearing too much make-up. I’ve heard men in cars shout and whistle at women in the street. It is not safe to walk around at night because I am female.

Women often do not receive the same opportunities as men in male-dominated work places. I’m likely to get paid less than my male counterpart when I graduate because I am a woman.

There’s a long history of toxic forced gender roles that are outdated, damaging and not representative of modern society. This is gender imbalance.

We have a lack of recognition for female scientists, artists, athletes (past and present) because we’ve been conditioned to think that men are superior. This then controls the negative gender balance of female role models for young girls to inspire the next generation of “This Girl Can”.

However, my experience of positive gender-balance has shown me that change can happen and have an incredible impact. I’ve experienced fair and equal treatment as a woman at university, work and in sport. In class discussions, I feel that my opinions are valued because what we are given equal opportunities to contribute to discussion.

I have male and female lecturers. I am encouraged to be myself and share my ideas, as is everyone else.

I’ve been challenged, accepted and encouraged by my peers, supervisors and colleagues to achieve my goals- because I am an equal.


Does korfball help to promote a gender-balance, and do you think there are lessons that can be learnt for the wider community from our sport?

Each division requires an equal split of men and women. For me, this highlights the importance of being able to work together towards a common goal (or goals!). Also, unlike other sports with fixed positions, korfball allows a more dynamic approach to problem solving strategies, where each player is presented with the same opportunity to contribute to the team.

Both of these aspects are important to the work-place, home environments and wider community.


Do you think the club is a positive influence on gender-balance and are there any areas that the club excels in or could do better?

As a fairly new addition to the coaching team I’ve found that the warm welcome encourages all players to come along and try korfball.

I’ve been supported by the head coach and have been part of discussions that influence the team. I feel that my feedback and ideas are respected and valued. Edinburgh City has created an excellent environment to help develop my own coaching skills, ask questions and be able to be a contributor to each training session.

Female coaches are much less common across all sports but we’re out there!  I think it’s also important to know that there is equal representation across the team and committee.  I think Edinburgh City is very successful at achieving a fair gender balance.

I think we need to keep pushing for equality and celebrating the diversity within mixed gender sports.

I’d be very interested in looking towards supporting a women’s charity in Edinburgh.

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