A brilliant debut year! How the Women in Cricket Network went from strength to strength

8 March 2024

Gloucestershire Cricket People and Culture Officer Jess Jones reflects on 12 months of significant achievement for the Women in Cricket Network.

Launched in March 2023, the Women in Cricket Network (WICN) was created to help drive the game towards becoming a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive sport. We’ve got a particular focus on women in the workforce across the ECB, cricket network, and charity partners. My role is around the events side of things, but the overall aim is on connecting, supporting, and listening to each other. Together, we’re all trying to help make cricket the leading sport for gender inclusivity and equity.

Sophie Edelsten and Jess Ward are the network’s co-chairs. They act as the liaison between the ECB and the rest of the group, and they brilliantly handle so much of the workload. But right now, with International Women’s Day here, it’s a busy time for everyone in the network. We’ve been signing up counties and county boards to do a coffee morning and live Zoom event with us. We’re also sending out packs of goodies and information, so there’s a lot of organising going on.

When I reflect over the last 12 months, we’ve had some really successful interactions and hugely positive buy-in from lots of people. For the women’s Ashes game at Edgbaston last summer, we had an all-female ground-staff. We basically did a female takeover of that fixture. It went amazingly well. There was a lot of media coverage and Sky Sports did its own twist on things. It was fantastic to be involved in it all. One of our members, Meg Lay, was one of the ground-staff that day. She’s since gone on to work at Lord’s, which is awesome.

On a personal level, I was also really keen to make sure we had some sort of presence in celebrating women in cricket. At the end of 2023, we did a round-up of our 23 inspirational women of the year. In my eyes, giving that public recognition was one of our key successes.

Women are still underrepresented in so many sports. In cricket, it’s a lot better than it was and it has been really nice to connect with other women across the cricketing network. We chat with each other about what’s going on and it’s just a lovely way of networking. You get to touch on each other’s experiences, hear about the different roles women have done in cricket, and link others with the people you know in cricket. It’s bringing to life that whole ‘if you can see it, you can be it’ idea. It’s so helpful, particularly in an industry that’s so male-dominated. It’s really nice to have a group of women you can rely on.

I’ve certainly seen more women in cricket now that I’m part of this network. I’ve been at Gloucestershire for four-and-a-half years, and I don’t know what historically puts women off working in sport. But I’ve definitely seen positive moves in that time. We hosted and sold out a women’s Ashes game at Gloucestershire, and it was almost everybody’s highlight of the year. It was just such a lovely environment, with a great family feel and the women’s game at the centre of everything.

The WICN had a planning meeting at the end of last year about what we wanted to achieve this year and we’ve got a lot of stuff going on right now. We do regular ‘Lunch and Learn’ live Zoom calls. They’ve included things like sessions on women’s health, looking at key women’s cancers, symptoms, and the support available.

We ran focus groups at different grounds looking at family leave and real employee experiences. They were particularly encouraging, because it wasn’t just women that came forward, and we presented the findings on a Zoom call in February. During this coming season, we’ve got several in-person networking events planned, so there’s lots to get involved with and learn from.

Our impact has definitely grown. Last year, we had 22 coffee mornings happening around the country on International Women’s Day. This year, it’s 30. We’ve also got a growing mailing list and LinkedIn group where we share job opportunities, successes, and general stories about women in sport.

I want to leave behind some kind of legacy, where women from outside of cricket see cricket as somewhere they can come and work and be their authentic selves. If we can do that, that will be the biggest thing we can achieve.

Jess Jones, People and Culture Officer at Gloucestershire Cricket

Jess Jones, People and Culture Officer at Gloucestershire Cricket

  • Latest news