Understanding the experiences of female sport officials in male-dominated sports

Theriault, Alice A. (2023) Understanding the experiences of female sport officials in male-dominated sports. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Sport officials are tasked with making quick and accurate decisions, maintaining order, communicating with athletes and coaches, and enhancing athletes’ safety—all while being under intense scrutiny from athletes, coaches, and spectators. In most sports, more male than female sport officials are recruited and retained. The limited research focusing on female sport officials suggests that their experiences are generally adverse. Since the nature of experiences is connected to one’s likelihood of continuing that experience, further understanding female sport officials’ experiences is imperative for learning more about their intentions to begin and continue (rather than quit) as officials. The purpose of this study was to explore the positive and negative experiences of female sport officials who operated in sports where the officials were primarily male. Nine sport officials participated in semi-structured interviews lasting 35 to 101 minutes. Thematic analysis was used to identify and code common themes within the data, many of which demonstrated clear links to the principles of Self-Determination Theory. The main themes discussed herein relate to (a) The Female Experience (pertaining to the context and environment in which they operated), (b) Facilitators (influences that assist with the responsibility of officiating), and (c) Barriers (circumstances or regulations that have had negative impacts on advancement and development). These themes highlight the inequality females are confronted within the sport officiating environment, but they also provide helpful tools to promote a more positive environment. By using these tools, female sport officials are more likely to continue and thrive as officials, rather than resign. Recommendations are provided for sport governing bodies, officiating organizations, and sport officials, which might contribute to future policy changes that lead to increased recruitment and retention of female sport officials.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/16280
Item ID: 16280
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references
Keywords: sport management, women's issues, qualitative, referees
Department(s): Human Kinetics and Recreation, School of > Kinesiology
Date: November 2023
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.48336/DHQG-RA66
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Sports officials--Recruiting; Women; Referees; Sports administration; Sports—Social aspects

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