Andreja Jost, from Slovenia, is one of the moderators of the Gender Leadership Programme and a mentor on the Mentoring Project, two of the key components of the European Athletics Leadership Programme.
In this Q&A, Jost describes the path she has travelled to reach her current positions and what she is doing in those roles.
European Athletics: What’s your involvement in athletics?
Andreja Jost: I currently have several roles in athletics: as a referee, technical delegate, a lecturer educating new judges, women’s leadership, and until some months ago I was also the head of technical officials in my country but now I’m now focusing on gender leadership and mentoring programmes
EA: How you become a moderator for the Women Leadership Programme?
AJ: I first joined the Women In World Athletics programme in 2014 and stayed active within it until 2017. I started learning and then become passionate about the idea of women in sport because I saw the problems that women have in this area.
I had the chance to speak up for women in sport in Slovenia and, I think, we need to step up and show what we know and what we are capable to do. When European Athletics involved women, I was asked to continue to the next level and with a few other women that were part of WIWA we collectively joined the European Athletics Women’s Leadership programme.
EA: What about the Slovenian Women Leadership course you helped create?
AJ: We have already had one course and we’ll start the second shortly. During the first course we had 10 women and nine of them finished it. In the second course, we know there will be more people. The course started as on online project one due to the pandemic and it is still online but maybe we’ll be able to finish the course in person with a guest speaker.
EA: Have you planned some special activities during your course?
AJ: For the second course, I’m planning to have a couple of guests. One is a TV journalist, and the other is a coach for handball who is also a professor in our sports university and involved in National Olympic Committee in Slovenia. In the case of the latter, we met at a conference, and she was really interested in the course and said that this is something that every sport should have.
EA: How does this programme help keep the participants involved in athletics?
AJ: We had federation elections and we never had so many women apply for the roles available. They are raising their voices and fighting for the [elected] places. We have one of the participants that is now member of the Slovenian federation board, and this is really important because we never had a woman in that position in the past.
EA: Has this course helped you?
AJ: Of course. I was always asking myself if I was good enough, I was always asking myself if I should ask for something or propose something. It helped my self- confidence. I believe in myself much more now than I did in the past. I’m not afraid to speak up anymore, I have more strength in my beliefs and that has been applied in my personal life too. I’m acting differently to the way I did before although I still have some negative thoughts sometimes, just like everybody.
EA: Why do you think that we need programmes like this?
AJ: Women know a lot of things; we have knowledge and experience but are often not brave enough because the business world around us is still led by men and we have to prove to ourselves that we are on the same level. We have to learn and work together, men with women and women with men. We need to cooperate with each other to know how to listen, help and encourage each other.
We have been workers [in athletics organisations] but never had the chance to participate when decisions were made. This situation is now changing a lot. In the judges’ regional commissions, we now have a lot of women. I was not the only one loud and brave, there were fortunately a lot more. I’m glad to be part of that change in culture. I know that to a certain degree and to some percent I’ve helped with that.