“You’re good…for a girl”. Exploring the impact of masculine hegemony on the gender identity of female judoka
Gender in sport is a commonly researched area, however there are few studies in sports where mixed-gender fighting during training occurs. This research aimed to explore the experiences of elite female judoka (judo players) in the U.K., and the potential impact of gender upon the athletes’ construction of athletic identities.
A qualitative research design was utilised to analyse gender dynamics and interpret the meanings given to the judokas’ experiences. 10 semi-structured interviews were conducted with elite athletes and data were analysed using thematic analysis to identify the main themes.
Two main themes emerged: the treatment of female judoka by others; and the means by which the judoka construct their identities. Findings suggested the judoka are affected by masculine hegemony, often stereotyped and discriminated against both within and outside their sport. Many participants coped by constructing a separate ‘feminine’ identity to avoid any consequences in social settings and to mitigate their participation in judo. While it is evident sport is becoming more accepting of women participating in sports like judo, it is clear female athletes still face a number of issues that must be challenged to promote an equal sporting environment for all.
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