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international women's day: the officials' line - margaret nelson

Margaret Nelson


15 March 2019 

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March every year and is a focal point in the movement of women’s rights.  This year’s campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world. 

Athletics prides itself on being a gender balanced sport and our officials play a major part in achieving this, where currently there are 59% male and 41% female officials in the UK.  In support of International Women’s Day 2019, throughout March, we will feature Officials across the UK to celebrate them and their commitment to athletics.  


Margaret Nelson

What is your role as an official?
I am a Meeting management, Field Judge, Photofinish Judge and a Track Judge.

How long have you been officiating?
41 years as a graded official plus a few years prior to that assisting at club meetings.

What inspired you to become an official?

Having had several years enjoying being a competitor at club and County meetings, I wanted to give something back to the sport when I came to the decision that my competitive years were over. Having assisted with judging whilst I’d been competing, it seemed the natural progression for me to concentrate on judging.

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?
If you have a love of the sport then it’s a great way to meet people sharing your interest.You will always be welcome as there aren’t enough officials to cover the ever-increasing number of events taking place at all levels all over the country.

You will never stop learning and therefore you will grow as a person. Without officials, competitions can’t be run properly

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
Working at many of the major meetings held in this Country such as the Manchester Commonwealth Games, London Olympics and Paralympics, the World IAAF and Paralympic Championships in 2017 and numerous ESAA championships etc. I have also enjoyed watching athletes progress through age groups and levels of competition – many of whom have done me the courtesy of always being willing to have a brief conversation when time permits at competitions even when I wasn’t working on their event.

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterBalance in officiating?

·         Ensure that all publicity shows both women and men sharing officiating roles equally.

·         Continue the recent trend of allowing officials to attend for, say, just one day of a two-day meeting as this will help those who feel they cannot leave their families for both days of a weekend.

·         Run training courses at times when those with families can attend without having to find childcare – i.e. during the school day.

·         Encourage those women currently working as officials to spread the word that there is nothing stopping women progressing through the levels as long as they are willing to make themselves available for meetings.

·         Try to determine whether there are women who, for any reason, would find it difficult to work with a male mentor and allocate a female mentor.


Find out more about International Women's Day here

If you want to get involved in officiating, find out more information here