Females bridge gender gap

Female athletes have long been an integral part of the success of Australia’s Olympic Team and this has been reflected by a steady increase in their representation over the years.

Making up 52% of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Team and 51% of the Rio 2016 Team, female Australian athletes for the first time outnumbered their male counterparts at both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

Australian women have been competing at the Olympic Games since Sarah "Fanny" Durack and Wilhelmina Wylie swam at the Stockholm Games in 1912. Outnumbered but not outdone by the 21 Australian men, Durack won a gold medal and Wylie won silver in the 100m freestyle. Throughout time the percentage of women on Australian Olympic Teams has continued to grow.

At the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, male and female representation reached 50:50 for the first time with 20 men and 20 women. At the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, for the first time women outnumbered men 31:29 in a 60 strong team, taking the percentage of women to 52%. At Sochi, female athletes Torah Bright (Halfpipe, Silver) and Ladia Lassilia (Aerials, Bronze) won two out of Australia’s total of three medals at these Games.

This was followed up in 2016 at the Rio Olympics where there were 214 women and 208 men on the team, a ratio of 50.90% female to 49.10%. This meant that for the first time in Australian Olympic history, women outnumbered men at the Summer Games as well as the Winters.

See the female participation at the most recent Olympics and selected statistics comparing performance by gender below.

Past 12 Summer Olympics (% of females in total team) 

2016 Rio


2012 London


2008 Beijing


2004 Athens


2000 Sydney


1996 Atlanta 


1992 Barcelona


1988 Seoul 


1984 Los Angeles


1980 Moscow


1976 Montreal


1972 Munich


Past 10 Winter Olympics (% of females in total team) 

2014 Sochi


2010 Vancouver


2006 Torino


2002 Salt Lake City


1998 Nagano


1994 Lillehammer


1992 Albertville


1988 Calgary


1984 Sarajevo


1976 Innsbruck


Number crunch: Results by gender

  • 34 of the 74 medallists at the Rio 2016 Olympics were female, making up 46% of Australian medallists. However, of those 34, 20 earned gold medals (including the women’s rugby team) compared to the Aussie men who took home three.
  • This statistic is also an exception to the trend of previous Olympics. London in 2012 saw 57% of podium appearances made by women and at Beijing 2008, Australian women won 58% of the Australian medal haul. At the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, two of the three medals were won by women (67%).
  • At the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Australia was the fifth top nation in women's results. Nine Australian athletes achieved a top 10 finish, six of them were women.
  • Australian women have won seven of Australia’s twelve Winter Olympic medals or 58%. They have been won by four women: Torah Bright (2014, 2010), Lydia Lassila (2014, 2010), Alisa Camplin (2006, 2002) and Zali Steggall (1998)