Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Gender Role Orientation in Turkish Female Athletes and Non-Athletes

Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Gender Role Orientation in Turkish Female Athletes and Non-Athletes

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to compare gender role orientation and classification of elite female athletes aged between 18 to 30 years with age-matched female non-athletes in Turkey. Additionally, gender role differences with regard to types of sport in elite female athletes were examined. In this study 306 elite female athletes ([M.sub.age] = 22.17 [+ or -] 2.51) and 264 female non-athletes ([M.sub.age] = 21.34 [+ or -] 3.14) were participants of this study. Female athletes were selected from feminine sports; ballet dancing, aerobic dance, swimming, ice skating, tennis, volleyball (n = 70), from masculine sports; basketball, handball, soccer, wrestling, weight lifting, taekwando, karate, judo (n = 127), and from gender-neutral sports; track and field, shot putting and javelin throwing (n = 109). The Bem Sex Role Inventory was administered to assess the gender role orientations of participants. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) showed that there were significant differences in gender role orientation between elite female athletes from different types of sport and female non-athletes (Hotelling's [T.sup.2] = 0.145; [F.sub.(6,112)] = 13.63; p<.01). In a follow-up univariate analysis, a significant difference in masculinity ([F.sub.(3,569)] = 26.07; p<.01) scores between female athletes from different types of sport and female non-athletes were observed. In addition, a chi square analysis showed a significant difference in gender role classifications between elite female athletes from different types of sport and female non-athletes ([X.sup.2] = 68.22; p<. 01). Based on these findings it was concluded that there were significant differences in gender role orientations between Turkish elite female athletes and non-athletes.

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In recent years, the significance of gender related issues has become apparent to many researchers from different disciplines (e.g., education, sociology, psychology). Today, the construction of gender and its relation to other psychological constructs is still being investigated. Although this subject has been studied mostly from a social sciences perspective, analysis of the significance of sport to the construction of gender has been neglected, especially in sport sciences. Gender, it is argued, is a major social and theoretical category that along with social class, race, age, ethnicity and others, must be incorporated into all theoretically based social analyses of sport (Hall, 1988).

Research and writing on the social construction of gender and masculinity through sport (Connell, 1987; Messner, 1992; Theberge, 1993) has highlighted the ways in which gender is socially constructed through engagement in sport practices. According to Theberge (1993), the centrality of body and physical performance to athletic experience makes sport a particularly powerful setting for the construction and confirmation of gender ideologies. Further, more organized sport is clearly a potentially powerful cultural arena for the perpetuation of the ideology of male superiority and dominance (Messner, 1994). Bryson (1994) stated that there are two fundamental dimensions by which sport provides support for masculine hegemony. First it links maleness with highly valued and visible skills, and second it links maleness with the positively sanctioned use of aggression, force, and violence. Moreover, because the social organization of gender in society defines the appropriate spheres of social activity and social roles for women and men, it will influence women's and men's participation in sport.

Women's participation in social institutions and sport goes hand in hand with the development of gender related research. Since the early 1970s, there have been increases in women's sport participation because of new opportunities, government legislation demanding equal treatment for women, the women's movement, the health and fitness movement and increased media coverage of women in sports (Coakley, 1994). …

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