Essay on Gender Barriers in Athletics

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Gender Barriers in Athletics

2. What are the social and cultural costs and benefits of an individual (male or female) entering a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex (eg women who enter body building, power lifting, boxing; men who enter synchronized swimming or field hockey)?

Throughout history it is clear that not only women, but both genders have faced seemingly insurmountable barriers when attempting to break into a sport that is not "proper" or stereotypical for their gender to participate in. Though as a society we are making strides towards equality in sport, such as the advent of Title IX, it is clear that we still have a long way to go. Though breakthrough policies such as this are moving in the right direction,
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Even organizations that claim to push for equality in sport seem to perpetuate these stereotypes themselves, an example of which is a quote found on the website organized by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity: "CAAWS is in business to encourage girls and women to get out of the bleachers, off the sidelines, and onto the fields and rinks, into the pools, locker rooms and board rooms of Canada". (http://www.caaws.ca/english/index.htm) Though this association does seem to have the right idea in mind, to get women "out of the bleachers, off the sidelines", they perpetuate ideas of normative female sport participation by instructing women to go to pools and rinks, implying swimming and ice skating, stereotypical female sports, instead of instructing them to go to boxing rings or basketball courts.

The quote above also raises another interesting issue by connecting equality in sport with equality in the workplace. Throughout history, these two ideas seem to run directly parallel to one another, and even reflect the state of the other. As women have continued to become a stronger force in the workplace, they also seem to be breaking through the gender-constricting barriers of sport at the same time. This idea reflects the inclination of our society to keep women in roles that are normative not only in dealing with sport, but throughout all other areas of a woman's life as well. In this manner, a good course of action in
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