UK workplace fitness provision and women: missing opportunities?

David G. McGillivray, Gillian Maxwell, Malcolm T. Foley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Debates around leisure and work have been central to leisure scholarly activity since the 1960s. This paper charts the changing dynamics of work and leisure and sets them within a framework of the equal opportunities debate. Despite almost 30 years of equal opportunities legislation, women's relative subordination to men in the workplace continues to make headlines and there is still abundant evidence of lack of equality. In parallel, leisure commentators have consistently pointed to inequalities in access to leisure for women.

As one dimension of the equal opportunities debate, this paper focuses on workplace fitness provision. It spotlights contemporary employer perspectives on the work and leisure needs of working women, now comprising around half of the UK's workforce. Firstly the paper discusses women's position vis-á-vis leisure policy provision and, secondly, it considers the findings of a nation-wide survey of the impacts of workplace fitness provision. The paper draws attention to four key themes elicited from the data. These are: conceptual confusion; user group conceptions; monitoring and evaluation; and the formalist approach to provision. Finally, several emergent issues and recommendations for action are identified. These point to the failure of workplace fitness provision in addressing women's ‘leisure’ needs and inclinations, thereby representing a form of gender inequity. There is also a call for a reconceptualisation of leisure to coincide with the merging of leisure and work through employer provision of fitness/recreation facilities. The suggestion is that government, employers and employees alike miss out on the opportunities in workplace fitness provision, primarily as a result of a flawed conceptualisation of leisure. The paper ends with recommendations and suggestions for further research in the area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-23
Number of pages10
JournalWorld Leisure Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • workplace fitness provision
  • leisure policy
  • family-friendly policy
  • work/life balance
  • leisure concepts
  • equal opportunities
  • re-creation


Dive into the research topics of 'UK workplace fitness provision and women: missing opportunities?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this