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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Putting organizational values into practice : gender equity for athletes in a Canadian university Hoeber, Larena Nicole

Abstract

Although gender equity has become an espoused organizational value for amateur sport organizations, research illustrating continued gender inequities at all levels of sport signal that it is not always enacted (cf. Fink & Pastore, 1997; Inglis, Danylchuk, & Pastore, 2000; McKay, 1997; Shaw, 2001; Theberge, 2000a, 2000b). A post-structuralist feminist lens emphasizes the local meanings and the production of gendered knowledge, encourages critique of the embeddedness of dominant discourses in organizational cultures, and provides strategies for uncovering alternative meanings and organizational practices (Alvesson & Deetz, 2000; Fletcher, 1999a). The purpose of this study was to understand and critique the meanings and practices of gender equity for athletes from the perspectives of administrators, coaches, and athletes in a Canadian university. This was accomplished through case studies of four sport programs that varied in terms of structure and history in one athletic department. Data were collected from interviews with 5 administrators, 6 coaches, and 20 athletes, observations of practices and competitions, and analysis of related documents and field notes. These data were coded and categorized using Atlas.ti. The findings revealed multiple but narrow meanings of gender equity that were not fully implemented into organizational practices. Overall, respondents were complacent about changing the status quo and used a variety of arguments to justify the observed gaps between meanings and practices. While it was assumed that gender equity had been achieved because the total number of men's and women's teams were similar, a number of inequities in terms of funding, promotion, and treatment were observed. The findings challenged the assumptions that there are unitary and widely shared understandings of organizational values and that espoused organizational values are fully put into practice (cf. Agle & Caldwell, 1999; Martin, 2002; Meglino & Ravlin, 1998). To move further with a gender equity agenda, discussions in sport organizations must be initiated to disrupt existing discourses and develop new ways of addressing and implementing this organizational value.

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