Microaggressions Experienced by Women and Gender Diverse Athletes in Competitive Cycling

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
  • 2 Premier Sport Psychology
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Competitive cycling is a sport with limited levels of diversity, particularly concerning gender. Women and gender diverse cyclists are likely to experience actions from others that reveal underlying assumptions based on their gender, race, or other cultural identities. This mixed-methods investigation used feminist theory and a transformative paradigm to highlight the experiences of women and gender diverse cyclists in a male-dominated sport. The authors explored the nature of microaggressions, perceived underlying messages, responses to such actions, and the feelings provoked. Two hundred and seventy-nine cyclists responded to the survey. Over three-quarters of participants reported being bothered by one or more microaggressions that they experienced in the competitive cycling community. Three primary themes emerged for types of microaggressions: assumptions based on gender, inequitable treatment, and harassment. A small percentage of participants noted an absence of microaggressions in competitive cycling environments. Although participants responded to microaggressions in several ways and experienced a range of emotions, the most common response to microaggressions was to not engage. Over half of the participants reported feelings of anger or frustration due to the microaggressions, followed by feelings of sadness. The results from this study complement what researchers have previously reported regarding female athletes and microaggressions in other sports. Implications and findings are discussed in the context of community norms and the need for a paradigm shift to promote inclusivity and diversity in the sport.

Ayala, Riley-Schmida, Faulkner, and Maleski are with Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA. Ayala is also with Premier Sport Psychology, Edina, MN, USA.

Ayala (eayala@premiersportpsychology.com) is corresponding author.
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