Sports and Gender Socializatio Sociology Help

Sports and Gender Socialization

Children spend more than half of their non school time in play and games. but the type of games played sometimes differs with the  child’s sex. Studies indicate  that boys are socialized to participate in highly competitive. rule-oriented games with a larger number   f participants than games played by girls. Girls typically  are socialized to play with other girls. in groups of two  or three. in  activities such as hopscotch and jump rope  that involve a minimum of competitiveness. Other  research shows that boys express  ore favorable attitudes  toward games and sports that involve physical  exertion and competition than girls do. Some analysts believe this difference in attitude is linked to ideas  about what is gender-appropriate behavior for boys and girls   Stardust, 1996).

For males. competitive sport becomes a means of “constructing a masculine identity. a legitimated outlet for voice and  aggression. and an avenue for upward mobility” (Lobber, 1994: 43). For females. being an  athlete and a woman may constitute   contradictory statuses. One study during the found that women  college basketball players dealt with this contradiction by   dividing their lives into segments. On the basketball  court. the women “did athlete”; they pushed, shoved,

fouled. ran hard. sweated. and cursed. Off the court, they “did woman”; after the game. they showered. dressed. applied makeup.  ND styled their hair. even if  they were only getting on a van for a long ride home  (Watson. 1987).However. researchers in a more  event  study concluded that perceptions about women athletes may be changing. Specifically, ideas about what  constitutes the   deal body image for girls and women are changing as more females become involved in  physical fitness activities and athletic  competitions.  Young women and men in one poll rated the athletic  female body higher than that of the anorexic model  Heywood and Woodworking, 2003).

Since passage in 1972 of Title IX, whim mandates equal opportunities in academic and athletic programs for females. girls’ and  young women’s participation  in athletics has increased substantially. More girls  play soccer and softball and participate in other  ports  formerly regarded as “male” activities. However. even with these changes over .he past three decades, only  about 42   percent of high school and college athletes are female. According to the sociologist Michael A.  Messner (2002), girls and women  ave been empowered  by their entry into sports; however, sex segregation  of female and male athletes, as well as coaches,  persists.

Most sports are rigidly divided into female and male events, and funding of athletic programs is often unevenly divided between   en’s and women’s programs.  Assumptions about male and female physiology and athletic capabilities influence the types of sports

whim members of each sex are encouraged to participate. For example. women who engage in activities that are assumed to be   masculine” (such as bodybuilding) may either ignore their critics or attempt to reduce  the activity or its result as “feminine” or  manly  (Klein, 1993;Lowe. 1998). Some women bodybuilders do not want their bodies to get “overbuilt” They have  learned that  hey are more likely to win women’s bodybuilding  competitions if they look and pose “more or  less along the lines of fashion  odes” (Klein. 1993:  179). In her study of more than) 00 people connected  with women’s bodybuilding. the sociologist Maria R. Lowe (1998) found that “women of steel- (the female  bodybuilders) live in a world where size and strength must regularly be   lanced with a nod toward grace  and femininity.

Cautious optimism is possible regarding the changing nature of sports and gender socialization. based on several studies of women  n sports (Heywood and  Dworkin, 2003; Messner, 2002). Clearly. manged have occurred that might positively influence the   sender socialization of both girls and boys; however, it appears  that much remains to be done to bring about  rater gender equity  n the area of sport. One sum  area is how the media report on women’s and men’s  sporting events, and the attributes (sum as   physical attractiveness) that they highlight regarding female  competitors while they emphasize the athletic skills of  male competitors

Recently. courts in states such as California have told some colleges and universities that they must increase their proportion of   female athletes, which in certain cases means bringing female participation in  varsity sports to within 1.5 percent of their  proportion  of the overall student population. Universities are  also being advised to add women’s sports teams. such  as women’s  field hockey, in order to offer a wider diversity  of sports in whim female athletes and coaches  might participate (Thomas, 2009).

Posted on September 5, 2014 in Sex and Gender

Share the Story

About the Author

Back to Top
Share This