Gender-Biased Communication in Physical Education

in Journal of Teaching in Physical Education

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Julia A. ValleyNortheastern Illinois University

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Kim C. GraberUniversity of Illinois

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This study examined physical education teachers’ awareness of gender equitable practices as well as the language and behaviors they employed in the physical education environment. The purpose of the study was to determine (a) what teachers know about gender equitable practices, (b) what types of gender bias are demonstrated, and (c) how teachers are influenced to adopt gender equitable behaviors in the physical education context.


A multiple-case study approach was used to provide an in-depth analysis of the attitudes and behaviors of four physical education teachers from four different schools. Teachers were formally and informally interviewed before, during, and after four extensive two-week periods of observations that included being audio recorded throughout the school day.


Themes emerged across the cases indicating that teachers engaged in teaching practices that reinforced gender stereotypes through biased language and gender segregation.


Teachers’ lack of awareness and understanding of gender equity prevented them from providing an inclusive learning experience for all students.

Valley is with the Department of Health Sciences and Physical Education, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL. Graber is with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL.

Address author correspondence to Julia Valley at
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