UBC Undergraduate Research

Women's Barriers To Physical Activity Chan, Briana; Escarcha, Jonah; Liu, Jason; Lui, Tanya; von Schulmann, Maarja


The purpose of our study was to explore UBC students' satisfaction with UBC Recreation’s current Women’s Only programs. Upon reviewing the literature, it was found that women’s overall participation on university campuses was lower than men due to perceived barriers such as feelings of intimidation and a lack of knowledge. A gap in the literature was found in the kinds of effective programming strategies that could be implemented to increase participation and a sense of safety for Women’s Only programming. Thus, a second purpose of the study was whether Women Only staffing during Women’s Only programming would increase feelings of safety and comfort for participants. We explored both perception of existing UBC Women’s Only programs and the potential influence of women only staffing in our study. This study was conducted through a quantitative survey that was targeted towards UBC students who identified as women and were not Thunderbird Sports Club athletes. The questions covered topics such as the knowledge of existing Women’s Only programs, previous attendance and satisfaction with these programs, and the effects of male staff on comfort and participation. Additionally, there were 2 open ended questions for the opportunity to share what other programs there could be and what they believed could improve their experience in the future. The average subject who had previously participated in UBC Recreation’s Women’s Only programming was satisfied with their experience in the program. Accordingly, positive and satisfactory experiences arose from Women’s only programming and may be enhanced by having only women instructors and staff present. Existing literature reports that women feel more comfortable around spaces that are exclusive to women, which informs our participants’ responses where most individuals state that they would feel safer if only women staff were present in the facility. Additionally, other responses from our participants expressed that Women’s Only programming at UBC can be improved through the introduction of Women’s Only self-defense or other combat sports classes. Current limitations with the survey involved the lack of demographic knowledge of the respondents. Moving forward, future research should consider how other factors such as age, ethnicity and faculty of the students can influence one’s knowledge about Women’s Only fitness programming and preferences to participate in Women’s Only fitness programming. Recommendations suggested by the participants included self-defence classes and masculine-dominated sports such as combat sports to increase their sense of safety and accessibility to sports not popular by women. Having only women staff working during the hours of Women’s Only program, and reserving the space for women will invite and encourage participants to join the fitness programs. Programs run by women provides a mentorship role to the participants as well and creates an empathetic and supportive environment. Lastly, strategic marketing to women in existing UBC clubs, first year events like “Imagine Day” and women faculty members will raise awareness to Women’s Only programs. This can be done by presenting flyers in high traffic areas of campus and having dedicated women’s week. Implementing these changes will encourage participation and overall satisfaction in sport. 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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