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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Toe picks and hockey sticks : children and the gendering of figure skating and hockey Westoby, Crysta Ann-Marie


Figure skating and hockey are two sports that currently are gendered as feminine and masculine, respectively. This study originated in my concern that gendered sports may be a discouragement to youth participation. This research project was undertaken in order to understand how figure skating and hockey are gendered in a community arena in rural British Columbia and how this might impact youth involvement. My methods included participant observation, interviews, and focus groups. The data from these ethnographic techniques are interpreted according to the concept that people both actively reinforce and resist the gendering of their sport. As a result of the study, I found that gendering hockey as masculine was often contested by female hockey players. Although females in recreational hockey seem to be largely accepted and welcome on mixed teams, the opposite was the case for females pursuing hockey competitively alongside their male peers. Gendering figure skating as feminine was largely uncontested, in part due to the lack of males participating in the sport. In addition, the interactions between hockey players and figure skaters frequently served to reinforce the gendering of these two sports. The key recommendation from this study is for both groups to be aware that the gendering of their sports seems to be a subconscious deterrent and they should take steps to counteract this trend.

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