Young gymnasts were given a chance to impress when sports minister Helen Grant visited Outwood Grange Academy last week.
Mrs Grant watched students perform before meeting PE staff at the academy.
She said: “I am at this wonderful school to see a marvellous demonstration of gymnastics but also to see what these girls are doing in relation to sport.
“There’s a two million gender gap between the number of men doing sport and the number of women doing sport and we want it to close.
“Sport is brilliant, it is a force for the good, it’s not just the health and fitness, it’s the confidence and self-esteem it can give to people and all those important life lessons – leadership, teamwork, discipline and respect.
“I think we have to listen to what women and girls want – not tell them – and provide it for them.
“I actually think there’s a sport out there for everyone and I also think governing bodies need to innovate more and attract girls and women and get them involved.”
Mrs Grant, who was wearing a Sport England ‘This Girl Can’ campaign T-shirt, represented Cumbria in hockey, tennis, athletics and cross-country when she was younger.
She was also North of England junior judo champion.
She said: “Sport has done so much for me.”