Scholars Sartore and Cunningham on women in leadership roles in sport

Melanie L. Sartore and George B. Cunningham have looked into why women are underrepresented in leadership positions of sport organisations. They published a journal article called Explaining the Under-Representation of Women in Leadership Positions of Sport Organizations: A Symbolic Interactionist Perspective in 2007 via The World’s Leading Sport Resource Centre website .

They are using a symbolic interactionist approach to try to understand why women are underrepresented in leadership positions of sport organisations. A symbolic interactionist approach means that:

… the multiple identities of an individual (i.e., the self) are manifested through behavior, cognitive, and emotional responses to patterned societal symbols and language (Blumer, 1969; Burke, 1980; 1991; Mead, 1934; Stryker, 1980). In this way, the self forms through societal interaction, the responses of others in various situations, and ultimately reflects the perceived meanings of society (Mead, 1934).

They are arguing that social ideologies in general and sport ideologies in particular are reproduced through organizational practices, language, and symbols and translates through interaction.

So when the self embraces ideological attitudes, meanings, and beliefs, behaviours may not only embody traditional gender norms and roles, but also serve to limit one’s inclusion and acceptance within commonly settings associated with gender stereotypes.

This means that the self might limit your behaviour without you even realising it. This self-limiting behaviour might limit the capacity of women within the sport context. Women don’t view themselves as leaders and that can prevent them from acting as leaders.

Sartore and Cunningham’s article is really interesting because not much research is done in this area. Most research is quantitative and looking at the representation of female and male in sport. This is good but we need to know WHY women are underrepresented in leadership positions in sport. So I look forward to see more research in this area.


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Filed under Research, Sport: Women in leadership roles

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