“Can You Work With Athletes as a Female?”: Career Experiences of Female Sport Psychology Practitioners

Click name to view affiliation

Rena M.G. Curvey Department of Education, School, and Counseling Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA

Search for other papers by Rena M.G. Curvey in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
*
,
Shannon C. White The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

Search for other papers by Shannon C. White in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Candice N. Hargons Department of Education, School, and Counseling Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA

Search for other papers by Candice N. Hargons in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Myles T. Englis Department of Education, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA

Search for other papers by Myles T. Englis in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Katherine C. Jensen Department of Education, School, and Counseling Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA

Search for other papers by Katherine C. Jensen in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Marissa K. Bosco Department of Education, School, and Counseling Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA

Search for other papers by Marissa K. Bosco in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Mikaela E. Thompson Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA

Search for other papers by Mikaela E. Thompson in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Samantha Leavens Toronto, ON, Canada

Search for other papers by Samantha Leavens in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
, and
Emily A. Murphy Department of Education, School, and Counseling Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA

Search for other papers by Emily A. Murphy in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

The heteropatriarchal ideology undergirding sport has been recognized as a root cause of gender biases across multiple domains. Gender bias persists, although there is a growing number of female sport psychology practitioners entering the field. As such, continued exploration of the impact gender biases and stereotypes has on women’s career experiences remains necessary. Utilizing a feminist standpoint framework, the purpose of this research was to explore the career experiences of female sport psychology practitioners, centering the role of sexism. Seventeen cisgender female sport psychology practitioners participated in semistructured interviews from May 2021 to July 2021. Participants’ ages ranged from 24 to 46 years, with a mean age of 33.2 years, and years of applied experience ranged from 2 to 21 years, with a mean of 7.4 years. Reflective thematic analysis revealed five themes: (a) perceived lack of credibility, (b) compensation disparities, (c) sexist attitudes, (d) pregnancy and parenthood, and (e) advocating for self and others. Participants’ experiences suggest female sport psychology practitioners are confronted with blatant sexism in the workplace that poses professional challenges and career obstacles they have resiliently navigated. This study contributes to the growing body of literature pertaining to women in sport by purposefully exploring the juncture of gender with other identity factors (e.g., age, sexual orientation, and credibility).

Curvey (rmgo228@uky.edu) is corresponding author.

This study provides a renewed understanding of professional challenges experienced by female sport psychology practitioners.

This study explored the impact of gender and different identity factors of female participants.

  • Collapse
  • Expand
  • Brackenridge, C. (2002). Spoilsports: Understanding and preventing sexual exploitation in sport. Routledge.

  • Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2019). Reflecting on reflexive thematic analysis. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 11(4), 589597. https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2019.1628806

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Burton, L.J. (2015). Underrepresentation of women in sport leadership: A review of research. Sport Management Review, 18(2), 155165. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smr.2014.02.004

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/index.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). CDC Museum COVID-19 Timeline. https://www.cdc.gov/museum/timeline/covid19.html

  • Claringbould, I., & Knoppers, A. (2007). Finding a ‘Normal’ woman: Selection processes for board membership. Sex Roles, 56(7), 495507. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-007-9188-2

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Creswell, J.W., & Miller, D.L. (2000). Determining validity in qualitative inquiry. Theory Into Practice, 39(3), 124130. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15430421tip3903_2

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cummins, R.G., Ortiz, M., & Rankine, A. (2019). “Elevator Eyes” in sports broadcasting: Visual objectification of male and female sports reporters. Communication & Sport, 7(6), 789810. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167479518806168

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davis, D.C., & Krawczyk, J. (2010). Female sportscaster credibility: Has appearance taken precedence? Journal of Sports Media, 5(2), 134. https://doi.org/10.1353/jsm.2010.0004

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Emmel, N. (2013). Purposeful sampling. In N. Emmel (Ed.), Sampling and choosing cases in qualitative research: A realist approach (pp. 3344). SAGE Publications.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • English, C. (2017). Toward sport reform: Hegemonic masculinity and reconceptualizing competition. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 44(2), 183198. https://doi.org/10.1080/00948705.2017.1300538

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fink, J.S. (2016). Hiding in plain sight: The embedded nature of sexism in sport. Journal of Sport Management, 30(1), 17. https://doi.org/10.1123/jsm.2015-0278

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Finn, C. (2014). Fox pulls all advertising on WEEI, Entercom. The Boston Globe. https://www.bostonglobe.com

  • Goldman, A., & Gervis, M. (2021). “Women are cancer, You shouldn’t be working in sport”: Sport psychologists’ lived experiences of sexism in sport. The Sport Psychologist, 35(2), 8596. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/tsp/35/2/article-p85.xml

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hahn, D.A., & Cummins, R.G. (2014). Effects of attractiveness, gender, and athlete--reporter congruence on perceived credibility of sport reporters. International Journal of Sport Communication, 7(1), 3447. https://doi.org/10.1123/IJSC.2013-0113

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hesse-Biber, S.N., & Leavy, P.L. (2007). Feminist research practice a premier. SAGE Publications.

  • Hyman, J.E., White, D.A., & David, J.L. (2022). The sisters of sport psychology: An examination of the professional black female experience. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 34(3), 624645. https://doi.org/10.1080/10413200.2021.1872733

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kidd, B. (2013). Where are all the female coaches? Canadian Journal for Women in Coaching, 13(1), 18. https://coach.ca/sites/default/files/2020-04/CJWC_FEB2013_EN.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Klaas, E., & Boukes, M. (2022). A woman’s got to write what a woman’s got to write: The effect of journalist’s gender on the perceived credibility of news articles. Feminist Media Studies, 22(3), 571587. https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2020.1838596

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Krane, V. (1994). A feminist perspective on contemporary sport psychology research. The Sport Psychologist, 8, 393410.

  • Krane, V. (2001). One lesbian feminist epistemology: Integrating feminist standpoint, queer theory, and feminist cultural studies. The Sport Psychologist, 15, 401411. https://doi.org/10.1123/tsp.15.4.401

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Krane, V., & Waldron, J.J. (2021). A renewed call to queer sport psychology. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 33(5), 469490. https://doi.org/10.1080/10413200.2020.1764665

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Krane, V., & Whaley, D.E. (2010). Quiet competence: Writing women into the history of U.S. sport and exercise psychology. The Sport Psychologist, 18, 349372. https://doi.org/10.1123/tsp.24.3.349

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McGannon, K.R., Curtin, K., Schinke, R.J., & Schweinbenz, A.N. (2012). (De)constructing Paula Radcliffe: Exploring media representations of elite running, pregnancy and motherhood through cultural sport psychology. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13(6), 820829. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2012.06.005

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Neubauer, B.E., Witkop, C.T., & Varpio, L. (2019). How phenomenology can help us learn from the experiences of others. Perspectives on Medical Education, 8(2), 9097. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40037-019-0509-2

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nowell, L.S., Norris, J.M., White, D.E., & Moules, N.J. (2017). Thematic analysis: Striving to meet the trustworthiness criteria. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16, Article 3847. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406917733847

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Noy, C. (2008). Sampling knowledge: The hermeneutics of snowball sampling in qualitative research. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 11(4), 327344. https://doi.org/10.1080/13645570701401305

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ponterotto, J.G. (2005). Qualitative research in counseling psychology: A primer on research paradigms and philosophy of science. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(2), 126136. https://psycnet.apa.org/buy/2005-03263-002

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Roper, E.A. (2008). Women’s career experiences in applied sport psychology. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 20(4), 408424. https://doi.org/10.1080/10413200802241840

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Roper, E.A., Fisher, L.A., & Wrisberg, C.A. (2005). Professional women’s career experiences in sport psychology: A feminist standpoint approach. The Sport Psychologist, 19, 3250. https://doi.org/10.1123/tsp.19.1.32

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Senne, J.A. (2016). Examination of gender equity and female participation in sport. The Sport Journal, 19, 19. https://thesportjournal.org/article/examination-of-gender-equity-and-female-participation-in-sport/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith, B., & McGannon, K.R. (2018). Developing rigor in qualitative research: Problems and opportunities within sport and exercise psychology. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 11(1), 101121. https://doi.org/10.1080/1750984X.2017.1317357

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Teherani, A., Martimianakis, T., Stenfors-Hayes, T., Wadhwa, A., & Varpio, L. (2015). Choosing a Qualitative Research Approach. Journal of Graduate Medical Education, 7(4), 669670. https://doi.org/10.4300/JGME-D-15-00414.1

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Terry, G., Hayfield, N., Clarke, V., & Braun, V. (2017). Thematic analysis. In C. Willig & W.S. Rogers (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research in psychology (2nd ed., pp.1637). SAGE Publications.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weinberg, R.S., & Gould, D. (2018). Foundations of sport and exercise psychology. Human Kinetics.

  • Whaley, D.E., & Krane, V. (2012). Resilient excellence: Challenges faced by trailblazing women in U.S. sport psychology. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 83, 6576. https://doi-org.ezproxy.uky.edu/10.1080/02701367.2012.10599826

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Women in Football. (2016). Women in Football 2016 survey analysis. https://www.womeninfootball.co.uk/assets/genericfiles/Women%20in%20Football%20Survey%20Analysis.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Women in Sport. (2018). Beyond 30%: Workplace culture in sport. https://www.womeninsport.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Beyond-30-WorkplaceCulture-in-Sport-report.pdf?x99836

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 768 668 68
Full Text Views 347 337 7
PDF Downloads 63 47 4