UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Out with the old-school : exploring women hockey players' sport leadership perceptions and intentions Cumming, Donna Michelle


The underrepresentation of women in sport leadership roles is recognized by researchers as a significant barrier to achieving gender equity in sport (Burton & Leberman, 2017a). This issue is even more prevalent in male-dominated sports such as ice hockey, where women represent less than 5% of coaches in Canada (Hockey Canada, 2020). While there is extensive research that documents the barriers and supports for women in sport leadership, few studies have examined this issue from the perspective of potential future sport leaders, namely varsity women athletes. Further, no existing research has explored this topic in a Canadian hockey-specific context. Using semi-structured interviews and focus groups, this study explored 11 Canadian varsity women hockey players’ perceptions of and experiences with sport leadership, as well as their intentions to pursue sport leadership roles after graduation. A critical feminist lens was applied to consider how and to what extent the athletes’ gendered experiences impacted their sport leadership intentions and perceptions. After engaging in a reflexive thematic analysis, the findings of this study were categorized into three main themes. The first theme contextualized participants’ perceptions and experiences with sport leadership through an in-depth review of the women athletes’ experiences growing up in a male-dominated hockey setting. The second theme examined participants’ (gendered) perceptions and experiences with sport leadership, revealing an overall preference for interpersonal and athlete-centered leadership styles. Further, this theme demonstrated the impact of the athletes’ current and past sport leaders on their own beliefs and values in relation to sport and sport leadership. The third theme outlined the athletes’ calculated intentions to pursue sport leadership, describing how they expressed an interest in pursuing sport leadership, but rarely as a top priority. Additionally, this theme identified gendered implications related to the athletes’ intentions to pursue sport leadership, suggesting that sport leadership was often a lower priority for the participants due to a lack of opportunities for women in many hockey leadership environments.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International