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international women's day: officials - jane pidgeon 

Jane Pidgeon

26 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.  

Jane Pidgeon

What is your role as an official?
I have several roles within officiating. My main area is as a track judge (level 4) but I am also a level 3 field judge, level 2 photo finish judge and level 3 endurance official. It is useful to have more than one discipline as I can help out at many meetings when they are short in other areas so that a meeting can still run well.

How long have you been officiating?
I have been officiating for over 20 years, but have done more events in the last 8-10 years.

What inspired you to become an official?
I became an official at the time when they brought in points for qualified officials for league events. I didn’t want our club to lose out on points. I now officiate at many more events than just league events as I have really grown to love the role knowing that I am helping many athletes to compete.

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?
I would encourage a young official to try as it gives them a knowledge of the rules that they can then take back to their clubs and help other athletes with this knowledge. The young officials also often have good ideas to help move the sport forwards. They are usually also keen and enthusiastic which is something the sport needs.

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
The highlight of my career has been officiating at both the World and Para World Championships in London. The para athletes really opened my eyes to what they can achieve despite the adversity that each athlete has. They are also so thankful for your services and help which makes it really rewarding.

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterBalance in officiating?
I feel that there is already a shift in the right direction with more women becoming qualified in track and field athletics. The endurance side needs an injection of both women and youth. I was the youngest endurance official at the National cross-country championships recently and I am now 55. We need to encourage more women and younger officials but to do this there is a lot of politics to get through in this area. Currently you have to be really determined to battle to get selections in this field and this needs to change.

I also feel that the wrong age group is being targeted. The 16-25 age group are not the right people to target. You need to target those in their 30’s who may or may not have children competing, but I feel that this group is more likely to continue with officiating if nurtured properly and given support.

I was delighted to be part of the Women in World Athletics (WIWA) group and was inspired by attending this to better myself and feel that I would like to give something back and help encourage a better balance in officiating.

Find out more about International Women's Day here

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