UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Bump, set, spike...spandex : examining coaches' and athletic directors' interpretations of the Canadian interuniversity sport women's volleyball rule on player uniforms MacDonald, Kelly


Despite a gender equity policy and an identical uniform rule for both men’s and women’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) volleyball players, every CIS women’s volleyball team wears tight fitting spandex uniforms, while the men’s teams wear looser and longer shorts to play. The dissimilarities between uniforms for the men’s and women’s volleyball teams demonstrate how CIS female volleyball players are governed in inequitable ways that feminize and sexualize the female players. Informed by feminist critical theory this research provides a discussion of the gendered power relations that work as a backdrop to the study of one aspect of organizational culture, namely the uniform rule that has developed in CIS volleyball. Using Martin’s (1992) three perspective approach to organizational culture this study examines the women’s volleyball uniform practice from the perspective of the Canada West, CIS women’s volleyball coaches and athletic directors. The three main themes that emerged from the interview data reveal that volleyball culture, player input and the power of coaches and athletic directors all impact the women’s uniform practices. Additionally, each theme provides support for Martin’s integration, differentiation, and fragmentation perspectives. Most notable are the contradictions, ambiguities and confusion around the spandex uniform as they highlight the complexity of the issue by illustrating how coaches’ and athletic directors’ lack clarity and understanding about the practice and its implications. This study exposes the gendered sub-text that flows through the Canada West Volleyball organization and acts as a jumping-off point for engaging in new dialogue about team uniform practices.

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