Why Females Don't Do Sport Degrees
Elliott, David, Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education
In the UK, "sport" degrees attract a predominantly male cohort. This study examined reasons behind this bias. One hundred and seventy females engaged in further education in the North of England were sampled. A series of statements designed to assess attitudes towards sport degrees were presented. Principle component analysis identified six factors: value/relevance; interest in sport; male dominated; suitability for females; academic value and career opportunities. Only the value/relevance factor could be considered pertinent. Participants were also asked to rate a series of sport degrees for their level of attractiveness and it was found that those which incorporated health and psychology were considered more attractive than those which focused on sport and exercise.
Keywords: higher education, attitudes, sport degrees, gender
Over the last 40 years the higher education (HE) demographic of the UK has changed dramatically. According to official figures, the number of students taking part in undergraduate study rose significantly between the early 1970s and present. UK Government data indicates that in 1970/71 the number of undergraduate students, full-time and part-time, was approximately 560,000. By 1997/98, although not directly comparable with the 1970/71 data as the 1997/98 data was based on enrolments rather than attendances, the number of undergraduate students in the UK had risen to around 1.2 million (Office of National Statistics, 2010). This figure continued to rise and by 2009 was in the region of 2.5 million (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2009).
As well as an increase in the total number of undergraduate students, there has also been a gender revolution with respect to female representation. Specifically, of the total 1970/71 contingent of 560,000, the male to female distribution was roughly 66% male and 34% female (Office of National Statistics, 2010). In 2009, females accounted for approximately 55% of those enrolled on undergraduate programmes (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2009). This increase in both undergraduate numbers and the level of female representation was not unique to the UK, with similar patterns also being observed in other Western nations such as the USA (Institute of Education Sciences, 2004). While some have voiced concerns about the scale of this inflation, claiming that if this trend continued males would become increasingly detached from HE (Schofield, 2004), others have welcomed the surge in the number of females attending university (Broecke & Hamed, 2008).
From studying recent enrolment data it is clear that a gender disparity still exists within certain academic disciplines. For example, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service for UK (UCAS, 2010a) data for 2009 revealed that although females were in the majority on courses such as anatomy and physiology (64%), sociology (74%), psychology (79%) and nursing (92%), enrolments were relatively low in many subject areas. While it is acknowledged that females were under represented on programmes such as engineering (Mastekaasa & Smeby, 2008), computer science (Clegg & Trayhurn, 2000) and physical science (Higher Education Policy Institute, 2009), there appeared to be little recognition of this trend within the sport disciplines. Although sports-related programmes are popular in the UK (UCAS, 2010b), the official data showed that only 32% of enrolments to this field in 2009 were female (UCAS, 2010a). As far as the current authors are aware, no attempts have been made to explain this particular bias. As such, we will briefly propose a number of theories that might account for this trend. For the purpose of this investigation, we have used the term "sport" to signify a range of sport disciplines such as sport science, sport studies, and sport and exercise science.
It is generally accepted that sport has long been a …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Why Females Don't Do Sport Degrees. Contributors: Elliott, David - Author. Journal title: Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education. Volume: 10. Issue: 1 Publication date: April 2011. Page number: 85+. © OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY Apr 2010. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.