UBC Undergraduate Research

Understanding the Perceived Cultural and Gender-Based Barriers and Facilitating Factors for Physical Activity that Students Self-Identifying as Female and Chinese (including Hong Kong and Macao) or Taiwanese Face at UBC Chan, Michelle; Im, Jin; Diego, Christian; Daowd, Kero; Rackham, Hilary


In this report ‘UBC SEEDS: Culture and Gender-Based Barriers,’ students at the University of British Columbia (UBC) who self-identify as female and Chinese (including Hong Kong and Macao) or Taiwanese were analyzed in order to better understand their perceived cultural and gender-based barriers and facilitating factors for physical activity. A recent UBC Undergraduate Experience Survey (UES) International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) had found that the people in this target demographic have the lowest self-reported levels of physical activity. Studying this issue is of great significance due to the fact that this demographic also collectively represents the largest subset of students enrolled at UBC. To accomplish this, a group of students in KIN465: Interculturalism, Health, and Physical Activity collaborated with their community partners from Social Ecological Economic Development Studies (SEEDS) to discuss objectives of the study and to learn how to conduct a focus group in a professional manner. A literature review was then conducted on cultural inclusivity in athletics and recreation in a post-secondary setting for underrepresented populations. The students then recruited participants for the focus group using an online format. A focus group was conducted with a small group of self-identifying female Chinese UBC students, during which cultural and gender-based barriers were identified and discussed, as well as facilitating factors to physical activity. Trends in responses identified perceived cultural barriers as limited exposure to athletics, cultural value of athletics, and cultural influence on gender expectations. Perceived gender-based barriers included sexual dichotomies of physical activities, intimidation and discomfort with male presence, and a preference for activities with a large female presence. Other barriers that were not gender or culture-based included time restraints, long commutes, price of activities, lack of experience, and characteristics of space. Participants found that reasonably-priced programs, women-specific programs, social networking, stress-relief, and facilities with gender-specific spaces were facilitating factors to physical activity. Based on the qualitative data collected, three primary recommendations were made to assist in breaking down perceived barriers and to incorporate factors that facilitate participation in physical activity. The first recommendation was to create gender-specific spaces and introductory recreation programs at UBC to boost comfortability and develop skills. Second, it was recommended that current programs in place at UBC increase the effectiveness of information delivery by promoting events in a way that caters to the target demographic. Finally, creating a partnership between UBC Alma Mater Society (AMS) and UBC Residence was recommended to facilitate collaboration with Asian student populations. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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