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UK Athletics
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international women's day - the officials' line - jen hickson 

Jen Hickson

17 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.  

Jen Lovell Hickson 

What is your role as an official?
I am a Level 2 Track and Field and this winter I have been working towards gaining Level 1 Endurance. My next goal is Level 3 Field. I'm also an Officials coordinator for the Highgate Harriers.

How long have you been officiating?
Since 2013.

What inspired you to become an official?
The wonderful Kate Jenrick (Track Judge and Club Secretary for Highgate Harriers) was and is my inspiration. I took my then young children to the first Quad Kids event at Parliament Hill athletics track, and Kate asked for parent volunteers to help run the event. I tried it and liked it, so Kate encouraged me to do more and get qualified as an official for Highgate Harriers.      

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?
Go for it!  It's both fun and challenging. It develops personal skills, like managing people, staying calm under pressure, focus and decision making, that can make you more effective in your working life. I include my athletics roles in my professional bio, even though I work in the oil and gas industry. My advice is to find a mentor to support your development.  

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
Track judging for the fantastic Night of the 10,000 PBs event that we have been holding annually at Highgate Harriers. It's both daunting and exhausting to work on eight 10k races in one evening, but immensely exciting. I'm looking forward to it again this year, when we will be hosting the European 10k cup for the second year. 

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterBalance in officiating?
Experienced officials can support the learning of new officials at grass roots events and create opportunities for them to try higher level events with support. Providing flexibility for women to officiate one or two events instead of the whole day could encourage greater participation.

Find out more about International Women's Day here

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