Sport New Zealand and the New Zealand Olympic Committee have announced the creation of Development Scholarships to help get more women onto the boards of sports organisations.

The joint initiative is the first in a programme to encourage suitably qualified women to put themselves forward for sports governance roles.

"Improving the governance of sports organisations has been a focus for Sport NZ in recent years with progress being made in many areas, so the time is right to tackle gender balance on sports boards because it will further improve governance capability," said Peter Miskimmin, Chief Executive of Sport NZ.

"A growing body of international research is also highlighting the value of increased gender balance in governance and leadership positions.


"Better decision-making and ultimately better bottom-line performances are quantifiable outcomes from the broader perspectives gained with a diverse board."

NZOC Secretary General, Kereyn Smith said while real progress is being seen on the field of play, in terms of participation and achievement by women, this is not the case off the field.

"The London 2012 Olympic Games provided another example of women achieving at the highest level in the sporting arena, but the representation and value of women is less evident in sports board rooms," she said.

At present women comprise around 27 per cent of sports board membership (being 142 women out of 521 positions among 71 targeted organisations). Targets have been set for women to comprise 33 per cent of sports board membership by 2015 and 40 per cent by 2020. The ultimate target is for 50 per cent representation.

The Sport NZ funded Development Scholarships, valued at up to $10,000 each, are for women who have shown leadership and have set their sights on sports governance.