Stereotypes and Personal Beliefs about Women Physical Education Teachers

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Mary B. Harris College of Education, Albuquerque NM 89131

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Joy Griffin College of Education, Albuquerque NM 89131

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In order to assess their cultural stereotypes and personal beliefs about women physical education teachers, we surveyed 196 individuals attending the 1995 American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) convention. Respondents felt that most Americans stereotyped women physical educators as masculine, aggressive, athletic, lesbian, and unintellectual. Their personal views were less extreme. Some differences in personal beliefs were found between men and women, and between lesbians, heterosexual men and heterosexual women. Occupation, age, and education were not importantly related to stereotyping. Open ended questions revealed both positive and negative aspects of physical education as a profession for women. Based upon the continued existence of some negative stereotypes, coupled with the low status of women physical educators, we suggest that the profession needs to increase its educational efforts and its appreciation of diversity.

Thanks are due to Kay Morgan for constructive comments on the manuscript, to Gwynne Dawdy and Kaari Parker for assistance with coding, and to Brett Christie for data entry.

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